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Survey reveals drivers' rural roads fears


By Alan Beresford

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A NEW survey has highlighted just how unnerved many drivers – especially those who live in towns and cities – are by rural roads, which account for more than half of all those in the country.

Watching your speed is just one of the tips for driving safely on rural roads this summer.
Watching your speed is just one of the tips for driving safely on rural roads this summer.

The survey of 2000 UK drivers conducted by One Poll on behalf of Ageas Insurance and the RAC has revealed that more than half of drivers (58 per cent) say they find using narrow country roads stressful, a figure that rises to 76 per cent for drivers who live in urban areas. The two biggest causes of stress, according to the research, are the difficulty of squeezing past other vehicles in tight spaces (62 per cent)) and the fear of colliding with another vehicle head on (61 per cent)).

The etiquette of who moves out of the way is also high on drivers' list of concerns about these types of roads. Having to try to reverse back to find a passing place (45 per cent)), the fear of meeting a tractor and not being able to pass (44 per cent)) and deciding who succumbs to back up to a passing place (37 per cent)) make up drivers’ top five stress factors. More than a third (36 per cent)) meanwhile say they think the default 60mph limit on country roads is just too fast to begin.

Robin Challand, claims director at Ageas Insurance, said: “We understand that getting to your holiday destination can be stressful at the best of times.

“Our research shows the type of roads we drive on can also be a cause of stress, with crashes and scrapes high on the list of people’s concerns, so we’re urging people to stay calm and – most importantly – stay safe this summer.

“Negotiating narrow rural lanes can be tricky, even for the most seasoned of drivers, but by following some simple tips and staying calm, you can avoid adding a damaged car to your list of things to get stressed about this summer.”

RAC Breakdown spokesman Simon Williams added: “For any driver less confident with tackling rural lanes the message has to be to plan a journey properly before setting out, and drive at the right speed according to the nature of the road, even if the official limit is 60mph.

"We’d also advise not becoming too reliant on a car’s sat-nav – while ducking off a main road to shave off a few minutes might seem like a good idea, if you’re then faced with having to carefully negotiate a tractor and queue of vehicles coming the other way, any advantage is soon lost.”

The RAC offers three simple tips to help drivers negotiate rural roads safely and more stress-free this summer:

  • Check your route carefully – If using a sat-nav, scrutinise the suggested route before setting out and see whether it’s actually easier and more comfortable to stick to main roads as far as possible instead. Also, be aware of sat-navs recommending diversions down narrow lanes for the sake of making up just a few minutes, it’s time that’s easily lost if you meet oncoming traffic. Don’t be afraid to take the long way round – perhaps an extra 16 miles or 25 minutes is well worth it.
  • Get in some practice – if you’re not used to negotiating narrow roads, then have some practice driving on some close to home before the pressure of a family holiday.
  • Take your time – while many country roads might have speed limits of 60mph, that doesn’t mean it’s the right speed to drive at. In fact, in many cases it’s incredibly unsafe to do so. Read the road carefully and consider what forward visibility you have. If it’s narrow and winding, reduce your speed accordingly.


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