Driving on Rural Roads
Driving on Rural Roads

Driving On Rural Roads: Tactics, Dangers & Safety Tips

Updated Aug. 17, 2019

Driving on rural roadways  can be every bit as dangerous as driving on high-speed freeways or crowded city roads. The dangers themselves are fewer on rural roads, though the overall risk is greater. Limited visibility, lack of road signs, careless driving and changeable roadways conditions make rural traffic fatalities tragically common. This section of our drivers education program teaches you how to identify dangers and drive safely on rural roads.

Dangers on rural roads

Other than a few extra potholes or the occasional animal wondering into the roadway, what makes rural driving dangerous? This is a question all learner drivers must be able to answer: staying safe on rural roadways is only possible when you understand the risks.

When driving on rural highways you may have to contend with slow-moving vehicles, poorly paved roads, variable roadway width and a whole host of other dangers. Get to grips with rural driving risks and learn the facts about collisions and fatalities on our nation’s most remote roads, in our “Rural Driving Risks” module.

Approaches to rural driving

Motorists must take every possible precaution to maximize visibility and reduce stopping distance when driving on rural roads. Hills, sharply curving roads and patches of woodland can make it difficult to spot oncoming vehicles and other dangers. The most important thing you must remember is to keep within the legal speed limit and reduce your speed even more if your view of the roadway ahead is restricted. We discuss this issue - along with other approaches to improve visibility and increase hazard perception – in this final lesson of our rural driving section, "Approaches to Rural Driving". Now, let’s discuss the risks of rural driving in greater detail.

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Dangers of Driving on Rural Roads
Driving on Rural Roads 2 of 3

Dangers on Rural Roads

Despite the slow pace of life, low traffic volume and quiet countryside which typify most rural communities in America, drivers are more likely to be involved in a fatal accident on a rural road than they are anywhere else. In 2016, the NHTSA recorded 37,461 traffic deaths overall. Of these fatalities, 18,590 (50 percent) occurred in rural areas.

Rural Driving Safety Tips
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Approaches to Rural Driving

Staying safe on rural roads depends on remaining alert, giving yourself the best possible view of the road ahead and making sure you have enough time to stop or maneuver to avoid a collision. Do not take any chances if your feel yourself tiring on a rural road. Find the next safe place to pull over and consider taking a short nap before proceeding on your journey.

Driving Through Curves & Hills
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Curves and Hills

When driving through a stretch of road that is not flat, or straight, a motorist must contend with additional forces acting on their vehicle. Adjustments in speed and lane position must be made to counteract these forces and maintain control. Furthermore, line of sight may be impeded by the mid-point of a curve or the crest of a hill.

Review
Urban Driving 3 of 5

City Driving Strategies

With so many other road users and hazards to contend with, driving in the city can be stressful and dangerous. Safe city driving relies on your ability to spot hazards and react to them appropriately. With appropriate training, you can make sure you always have time to avoid an accident.

Urban Driving 4 of 5

Dealing with Congested Traffic

City traffic is at its worst during early morning and late afternoon rush hours. Maintaining a safe space around your vehicle is practically impossible during these high-congestion periods. In this situation, you can expect traffic to be moving extremely slowly and stopping often. Vigilance is the key to preventing gridlock.

Urban Driving 5 of 5

Driving Through Construction Zones

While driving in the city, you may encounter construction zones or detours marked out with warning signs and signaling devices. These are in place to guide road users and pedestrians safely around the work zone. Always reduce your speed when approaching a construction or maintenance area on the road, as there may be workers moving around on foot.

Residential Driving 1 of 3

Driving in Residential Neighborhoods

Motorists are generally exposed to far less danger when driving in residential neighborhoods, than they are when driving in a city or on a major highway. Nevertheless, the risk of being involved in an accident or collision in a residential neighborhood is high – particularly when traveling close to home.

Residential Driving 2 of 3

Special Use Lanes

One of the first things you must learn when driving in residential, suburban and urban neighborhoods is that not all traffic lanes are designed to be used in the same way. To increase public safety and minimize congestion, “special use” lanes and road features, such as one-way streets, center left turn lanes, reversible lanes and roundabouts are present in some areas.

Residential Driving 3 of 3

Parking Risks

Searching for a parking spot amid crowded road conditions can lead drivers to behave less courteously and safely than they would usually. It is easy to overlook road rules and become frustrated with other drivers, when competing with many other motorists for just a handful of parking spaces.