Road Safety for Drivers

We look at some top safety tips for when you're out on the road

Road safety is imperative. Cars are becoming safer, and the advances in technology mean that we have never been safer on the roads. In fact, Volvo have committed to ensuring that there are no deaths or serious injuries in their new vehicles from 2020.

However, we are not 100% safe all of the time. And road safety is still just as important today as it was thirty, forty years ago when lane departure warnings didn’t exist.

27,130 people were killed or seriously injured in the year ending June 2017. There were 176,500 casualties if you include minor injuries. While this is actually a 5% fall in injuries and deaths from last year, it is still far too many.

So in this article, we are going to look at some top tips for staying safe while driving, including on rural roads, on motorways and in cities.

Top Tips For Driving On Rural Roads

Rural roads such as country lanes, are pretty common in many parts of the UK. If you live in the country, then you will be used to these roads and therefore you might think that you are safer. However, this is not the case. One in three road accidents happen when you are a mile from home, so it’s vital that you are paying attention at all times, even if you have driven along that road hundreds of times before.

If you are new to driving on rural roads, then they can be intimidating. Windy, single lane roads that aren’t well lit with the potential to drive into a tractor at any minute can put some drivers off even attempting a journey that requires driving down such a road.

So here are some of our top tips for driving on rural roads;

Expect the unexpected

The countryside is full of surprises, so be aware at all times. You could encounter sharp and blind bends at a minutes notice, dips in the road, or trees obscuring your view.

You could also encounter wildlife such as deer or badger, especially if you are driving at night.

Therefore, you should always be aware of your surroundings when you are driving. Some country roads are the national speed limit, but there is no harm in slowing down if you are unsure what awaits you when you turn the corner or when you have to see through overgrown hedgerows. You should also watch out for hidden turnings, country lanes going off country lanes can be dangerous in the dark or if you are not expecting them.

deer on a road with a car in the background

Monitor your speed

As we said, some country roads are the national speed limit, 60mph, which can often seem too fast for the road that you are driving on. The speed limits are not a target, and if you feel that the national speed limit is too fast for the road you are driving on, the condition of the road or the time of day, then there’s nothing wrong with slowing down. Always make sure you are in control.

You should also be wary of villages. Villages have strict speed restrictions and traffic calming measures. Therefore, you should be aware when you are driving through a village to lower your speed.

Use your sat-nav

If you have it, of course. Even if you have a rough idea of where you are going, you can get lost easily on country roads where road signs and street lamps are few and far between. If you have a sat-nav, use it. Zoom in on where you are so you can monitor the road closely, it will prepare you for any twists and turns that may be approaching.

Watch the road surfaces

Unfortunately, many country roads are left un-maintained, and are not always in the best condition. Therefore, you should always be aware of the surface of the road, otherwise that pothole that’s been there for years could be your undoing.

In winter, black ice is a huge risk, as is patches of ice that have yet to melt due to being in the shadows so look out for them during the day. Water is also an issue, drainage isn’t always great on country roads, so take care when the weather is bad. You should also watch out for mud on the road, tractors tend to leave a lot behind.

Know how to navigate slow-moving traffic

You know that joke about tractors driving on the road when there’s a field right next to it? That happens a lot in the country.

However, they are just as entitled to drive on the road as you are, so you will have to know how to navigate slow-moving traffic like tractors.

Don’t try and do any risky overtaking manoeuvres, it can be incredibly dangerous. Make sure you have a clear view of the road and that there are no bends coming up.

Many farm workers move over to let you pass, which will be hugely helpful. If they don’t, then the chances are they aren’t travelling too far anyway so you won’t be following them for your whole journey.

red tractor driving along a country road in the sunshine

Caravans and trailers are a different issue, but the key is to be patient and not to get too frustrated, meaning you make a risky move that could endanger lives.

You will also have to think about horse riders and cyclists, these are very common on country roads. You should always slow down for horses and never do anything to startle them. Do not honk your horn or rev your engine, this can startle a horse and seriously endanger the person riding it.

You should also be patient with cyclists, they have as much right to the road as you do so slow down and wait until you can pass safely. Many cyclists on country roads will help you out and signal when it is safe for you to go, which is helpful.

Top Tips For Driving In Cities

Driving in towns and cities can be stressful, slow and it can often feel like you don’t get over 20mph. However, driving in built up areas come with a whole range of dangers, so it’s important that you know how to navigate cities safely.

Expect stress

If you expect to encounter traffic, closed roads and other road users doing careless things, then this will make driving less stressful. If you concentrate on staying calm, then this will stop you losing your temper and doing something reckless or dangerous that you might regret when you’re at home with a cup of tea.

Be the bigger person. If you are courteous and respectful then other drivers will do the same. Likewise, if you are rude, then expect to be treated the same way.

Keep an eye on the weather

Rain will increase stopping distance, so it’s always good to note the weather when driving in and around cities.

Also, be careful of pedestrians, it’s an offence to splash someone when you are driving when you can avoid it.

Unsure which is best for traditional British weather? We cover everything you need to know about the Two wheel drive vs. the Four  wheel drive in classic British weather

Be wary of others

Driving in towns and cities can be stressful, slow and it can often feel like you don’t get over 20mph. However, driving in built-up areas come with a whole range of dangers, so it’s important that you know how to navigate cities safely.

Expect stress

If you expect to encounter traffic, closed roads and other road users doing careless things, then this will make driving less stressful. If you concentrate on staying calm, then this will stop you losing your temper and doing something reckless or dangerous that you might regret when you’re at home with a cup of tea.

Be the bigger person. If you are courteous and respectful then other drivers will do the same. Likewise, if you are rude, then expect to be treated the same way.

Keep an eye on the weather

Rain will increase stopping distance, so it’s always good to note the weather when driving in and around cities.

Also, be careful of pedestrians, it’s an offence to splash someone when you are driving when you can avoid it.

Be wary of others

You aren’t going to be the only one on the road, and there will be scooter riders, motorcyclists and cyclists all sharing the road with you.

You should be extra vigilant when it comes to stopping, making a turn, parking and opening doors lest you take out a poor cyclist.

smartly dressed man in blue blazer and chinos with brogues riding a white bike in a city

Watch out for buses and delivery vehicles

Buses and delivery vehicles stop often, and stop in places that aren’t necessarily convenient. You will need to leave a greater stopping distance when you are behind a bus. This is to allow for passengers getting off and on at stops and also for those running to get the bus, they can often cross in front or behind the bus if they are in a rush.

Delivery vehicles are also something you have to look out for. They often have to stop and park in tight spaces so you will have to give them a wide berth.

Watch the road markings

Driving around cities can mean that there are extra traffic laws you have to abide by. This includes bus lanes and yellow box junctions, as well as cycle boxes. These are closely monitored and human operators often aren’t far behind. So make sure that you are aware of road signs and road markings.

Top Tips For Driving On The Motorway

Motorways are actually pretty safe, but they can be hugely intimidating to inexperienced drivers or those that do not often drive on motorways. They can also be dangerous in certain situations, so here are some of our top tips to keeping safe on the motorway.

Match your speed when joining the motorway

Avoid interfering with traffic already on the motorway. Match your speed to the vehicles in the first lane. Once you are on the on-ramp, then the speed limit usually increases to 70mph. You have from the start of the on-ramp to the end to get up to 70mph otherwise other drivers will have to brake as you get onto the motorway. Obviously, if the traffic isn’t moving at 70mph then you won’t have to get up to that speed, so you should match the speed of the other drivers.

Always use the mirror, signal, manoeuvre procedure.

arial view of a motorway with a speed camera

Keep an eye on speed limits

The national speed limit on a motorway is 70mph but this can change. Watch out for signs telling you otherwise, as well as speed cameras, both fixed and average.

Overtake properly

Remain in the left-hand lane of the motorway unless you are overtaking slower traffic. Follow the mirror, signal, manoeuvre procedure and avoid sitting in the outside or middle lanes unless you are overtaking. The police are now able to hand out on the spot fines for those hogging the middle lanes, so now it’s even more important that you don’t.

When you want to change lanes, hang back slightly from the vehicle in front and wait until you spot a gap. Check your mirrors, indicate, and change your speed in your lane to match the speed in the lane you are moving to.

Exit the motorway properly

Keep an eye out for your junction and move into the first lane when you get closer. Signal left at the 300 marker to inform the other drivers that you plan on exiting the motorway and then only decrease your speed when you turn off the motorway in order to keep the traffic moving.

Know what to do if you break down

It’s not ideal, but breaking down can happen, and it can happen on the motorway. Therefore it is vital that you know what to do in the event of a breakdown;

  • Move as far onto the hard shoulder as possible as soon as possible and switch on your hazard lights
  • Either use an orange phone at the side of the motorway or use your mobile to ring the Highway Agency. Give as much detail as possible if you are using your mobile, ideally use the orange phone so they can pinpoint your location.
  • Leave your car and wait on the verge. Leave pets inside the car, we know that’s probably not what you want to do, but it is the safest option for you and your passengers. Wait until help arrives and do not return to your vehicle unless you absolutely have to.
Read more about what to do in the event  of a breakdown here 

Hopefully this has given you some top tips to driving safely in rural areas, in cities and on the motorway. The key is to pay attention to your surroundings at all times, and watch your speed. Be aware of other drivers and remember to be respectful of other road users, they have every right to be on road, just as you do.

Do you think you're a good driver? Check out our guide which uncovers the credentials all good drivers have
Holly Martin

Holly Martin

Content Co-ordinator at OSV Ltd
Holly enjoys: Reading, music and spending time with friends.

Within a week of Holly starting work at OSV she became an indispensable part of the marketing team. She's very intuitive and gets on with the whole office effortlessly.
Holly Martin

Leave comments

Your email address will not be published.*



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top