Each year when we look at the statistics around road accidents throughout Ireland we see that most causalities occur on our rural roads. It is hardly surprising that these roads will claim more lives than safer modern motorways but what can we do as drivers to try and reduce the statistics?
Our motorways and dual carriageways have been designed with road safety in mind, while our country roads can have a huge variation in quality even within a few kilometers. Some are extremely narrow and can have poor surfaces with even poorer visibility. All these elements can make it difficult driving at the best of times.
At night it can be very difficult to see clearly without streetlights and especially in the wet and windy conditions we often experience in Ireland. Add to that mix some severe bends, hidden dips and unsigned junctions and it can be extremely challenging. Being alert and not driving while tired will help a lot in being able to drive these roads effectively.
Slow down and expect the unexpected is a clear simple message. Floods can appear suddenly around a corner and when they cover a large pothole it can be dangerous. Most worrying is the fact that livestock can appear out of nowhere, after escaping from a field and you might not be able to stop in time. Expecting something to be around the corner and being ready to slow down or stop takes high concentration but could save a life.
Sharing the Road
On motorways we might expect other trucks, cars and motorbikes. However, once on a rural road we will come across more pedestrians, cyclists and tractors. Many of these may not be very visible until we are close to them. We often encounter slow moving large vehicles and the frustrated car drivers that are anxious to overtake. Sometimes they are tempted to take risks that may not end well, is it worth it to save a few minutes? Be conscious of other road users and be considerate of their requirements also.
The speed limit may be 80 or 100kph but are the road conditions such that you can stop in time and stop safely at that speed? Where there may be obstructions on the road, or mud from farm machinery you should be going the correct speed for the road conditions.
Accidents on country roads will be more frequent and also tend to be more severe but if we all follow a few simple pieces of advice we may be able to prevent even one more unwanted statistic. We should ‘Slow Down and Expect the Unexpected’.