Drivers put to the test on country roads

MOTORISTS are asked to test their rural driving skills in a Country Road Challenge currently touring Scotland and promoted online.

The drive is part of a Scottish government and Road Safety Scotland campaign aimed at tackling country road accidents and fatalities, which account for the highest number of road deaths — three out of four — in Scotland.

While rural road deaths rank higher in more rural areas — a total of 987 were recorded in Aberdeenshire over 2006-2010 — there remains a risk in the southside and East Renfrewshire.

During the same period of time, 58 fatalities occurred on country roads in East Ren (of which 41 were male and 17 female), and despite covering a largely urban area, Glasgow city recorded 30 deaths (25 men and five women).

Dr Neale Kinnear, senior psychologist at the Transport Research Laboratory, explained: “The link between speed and crash involvement is indisputable.

“An enormous amount of research has shown that the faster you drive, the more chance you have of crashing.

“Country roads in particular catch all drivers out because they are changeable and offer little margin for error — being unable to respond to a hazard just once can be fatal.

“Bends, junctions and unexpected hazards like farm traffic, walkers and cyclists can all take drivers by surprise, but by slowing down on country roads, drivers can give themselves more time to respond to such hazards”.

Now, Glasgow and ER residents will be given the chance to test their risk factor in an interactive game, in the hope of proving that distractions and driving at high speeds does not leave enough time to react on rural roads.

Their reactions will be put to the test, assessing their ability to process information at varying speeds.

The nearest stop-off point for the Country Road Challenge is at Braehead shopping centre on Saturday (March 17). For more info, or to test yourself online, visit dontriskit.info, or the Road Safety Scotland Facebook page.

Rural readiness tips:

1 Watch your speed, and tailor it to the conditions of the road. You don’t have to be speeding to be driving too fast.

2 Read the road – be aware of changing conditions and hazards on the road and give yourself time to read them all.

3 Don’t be distracted – often minor distractions can stop your focus on the road and cause serious accidents on country roads.

4 Overtake wisely – only overtake when you have a clear, long view of the road ahead. It takes longer than you think to pass a vehicle when traffic is coming the other way.

5 Careful on corners – when approaching a bend reduce your speed and keep a road position that will give you maximum visibility of the road ahead. This will help reduce the risk of collision when meeting a car coming the other way.

6 Expect the unexpected – country roads can be unpredictable, whether it’s animals on the road or mud or other debris on the road surface.