Driving test centres can be found in a range of different locations whether that be in a rural area or in the middle of a busy town or city.
They are located in these different areas so that the learner driver can drive on many diverse roads as part of their test.
The learner driver could be forgiven for thinking that rural country roads are much less hazardous than built up urban roads.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Not only can they be more dangerous, they can also be much more challenging to drive on.
What You Will Learn
Driving on country roads can be very different to driving on other types of roadway, so we’ve put together this guide to make sure you’re fully prepared.
Hints & Tips
Because country roads are not as regularly maintained as urban roads, they are often of a much poorer quality.
This means that there is a much more likely chance of hitting potholes.
If this happens, a range of issues can develop from puncturing a tyre, damaging a wheel or even causing defective tracking.
It is also worth taking into account that country roads are more susceptible to aquaplaning (after heavy rainfall), blind bends, animals on the road, heavy farm vehicles, narrow roads and reduced overtaking opportunities.
Below are a range of potential hazards and recommendations:
If there are potholes on the road taken for the driving test, or generally, it is wise to slow right down to avoid them and when it is safe to do so, drive around them. If you are in a long line of traffic then or vehicles are driving very close to you then you will have to drive through them as slowly as you can.
In addition to potholes, another hazard that can be found on country roads is an uneven surface. While this might just mean an uncomfortable journey in dry weather conditions, it can be a different story if the surface is wet. Standing water on roads without proper drainage can cause a vehicle travelling at speed to aquaplane.
Aquaplaning is when one or more of the tyres loses contact with the road surface because of the layer of water left after a heavy rainfall. Whenever possible, it is best to avoid aquaplaning. Drive at the right speed for the road but if you see that there are some unusual conditions up ahead, slow right down and drive the car straight without steering left or right. Avoid using the brakes if at all possible.
Unlike urban roads, some country roads have quite severe blind bends. Many accidents that occur on country roads are caused by the driver going far too fast and taking the bend too fast without knowing what is around the bend. Trying to avoid a cyclist on a blind bend when going too fast is a recipe for disaster and many accidents occur in this way. In addition, many farm vehicles such as tractors can be on the road and may cause a problem if you are driving too fast. Driving with caution and using and adjusting your speed to what you can actually see ahead will help you keep control of your vehicle when you encounter a blind bend.
Country roads often have animals on them, horses, cows, sheep and other animals from nearby farms. It is very important that you know what vehicles are behind you at all times so that you can stop when necessary, particularly if an animal runs out in front of you.
If an animal does run in front of you, resist the urge to brake as this might cause you to skid and lose control of your vehicle. Instead, slow right down to avoid the animal. Many learner drivers have failed their test because they slammed their brakes on instead of slowing right down.
It is essential that you check the road conditions when you know that part of your journey will take you on country roads. This way you will be much more alert to the possibility of having to slow right down or even brake where necessary, especially in poor weather conditions.
There is a strong possibility that you will encounter heavy farm vehicles such as tractors and trailers whilst driving along country roads. If you are taking your test and you have to travel along a country road, the examiner will expect to see you overtake and continue on only if it is safe to do so. The examiner will not be impatient if you are unable to overtake for some time.
Overtaking a long vehicle on a country road requires you to be absolutely sure that there is adequate space for you to safely pass the vehicle and return to your side of the road. If sufficient space does not open up then you must stay put until it does.
Horses are often encountered on country roads and you must appreciate the vulnerability of their riders, particularly as you approach bends. As soon as you see a horse and rider up ahead you should start to decrease your speed so any vehicles behind you can see what is happening. You should overtake them very slowly, no more than 15 mph to avoid frightening the horse.
Many country roads have a speed limit of 60 mph so it is essential that you slow down as you approach junctions unless you have extensive visibility.
Your driving test in a rural area will not take place if the weather is poor e.g. snow, ice, dense fog. However, it will if it is raining heavily. The important thing to remember if the weather conditions are wet, is that stopping distance doubles and all of the possible hazards outlined above can occur. Keep your speed on the low side, appropriate to the road conditions and be prepared to slow down even further where necessary.
Hints & Tips
Frequently check your interior mirror to see where vehicles behind you are.
Slow down if they are driving too close to you.
This reduces the risk of them running into the back of your car if you have to brake suddenly.
In addition to all of the things we have already covered, country roads present another potentially new challenge – signposts.
Because country roads are all different and you may be passing areas where certain types of buildings, businesses or wildlife are located, there’s an increased chance that you’ll see different signs.
We highly recommend you review these particular signposts on the Highway Code website.
Negotiating country roads takes a more cautionary set of skills as the hazards that can present themselves are not the sort that you are likely to encounter on an urban road.
Slow and steady are the watch words unless the road is visibly clear for some distance ahead.
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