America’s country roads may not have busy intersections, but they still come with driving challenges all their own, such as farm equipment or wildlife. To stay safe on back roads, here are some important rural driving tips you may not have learned in DRIVER’S ED.
- Use extra caution
Country roads tend to be more narrow than roads in the city — and less space means less time to react to changing conditions. Watch the side of the road and be cautious of slow-moving farm equipment, wildlife and people on foot, bikes or horseback. Driving the speed limit is imperative, and in adverse conditions like rain or fog, it’s safer to drive even slower.
- Utilize your vehicle’s lights
While requirements differ by state, using low- and high-beam headlights, fog lights and flashers can help keep you and other drivers safe.
- Low-beam headlights should go on at dusk and remain on until the sun is up again. Also use them if the weather is dark or dreary.
- When driving at night, high-beam headlights offer more visibility and can be used if there are no cars in front of or approaching you.
- As their name would suggest, fog lights are for driving in fog. All other lights can cause dangerous glare under foggy conditions.
- And finally, use your hazard lights to alert other drivers if your vehicle is traveling significantly slower than traffic or if your vehicle is stopped for any reason.
- Pass safely on two-lane roads
If you’re on a two-lane road and decide to pass a vehicle in front of you, be sure to check your surroundings. Start with the markings on the road, as they’ll indicate whether or not it may be safe to pass: A dotted yellow line on your side of traffic means it’s legal to pass. However, always consider other cars, weather conditions and safety. According to WIKIHOW, you should only pass if you can see at least a quarter mile of clear, straight and flat road ahead.
- Prepare for emergencies
Exits can be few and far between on country roads, so it’s extra important for rural drivers to keep emergency kits in the back of their cars in case of bad weather. To build your emergency kit, gather water, snacks, flashlights, first-aid supplies, a car phone charger and paper maps. In the winter, pack hats, gloves and blankets for warmth, just in case you can’t use your car’s heater. You can never be too prepared!
Follow these tips and, just like the song says, country roads will take you home. If you’re road tripping cross-country, keep an eye out for changing ROAD LAWS, and be sure to stop at CENEX® on your way!
Photo by Allen Lee on Unsplash