Driving Tips: Country Roads

As Oregonians, we love our country and rural roads; its part of what makes Oregon, Oregon. But as we all know, these roads can be extremely dangerous (especially during the summer and fall months) when larger masses of people area heading to areas such as Little North Fork and Detroit Lake. Also, the increased presence of deer and other wildlife can be another common cause for accidents. So the question is, what do we do about it?
First, let's define a country road, or a rural road. It sounds silly, but you would be surprised that some roads you might not initially call country fall under this list:
· Lack of signs or accurate maps
· Blind curves
· Narrow width (not sufficient for vehicles to pass safely)
· No shoulder or guard rails
· Soft surface (loose gravel or dirt)
· Rough or damaged road surface
· Obstacles on road (slow-moving vehicles, animals, debris)
· Unusually steep hills or sharp curves
So now that we've defined the road-type, what is the best way to navigate around these obstacles such as curves, blind hills, and rough surfaces?
Wear Your Seat-belt
Before you head off, be responsible and make sure everyone is wearing a seatbelt. It could be the crucial difference in the event of a crash.

Watch Your Speed
Country roads aren't just about obeying the speed limit. You have to drive at a speed that won't affect your decision-making ability. And that may be well below the limit.

Blind Summits / Hidden Dips
Dips on the road will catch you out if you aren't paying attention. Be aware of summits by keeping an eye on road signs and slowing down as you approach. You just don't know what could be over the hill.

It's really important to reduce your speed when navigating a bend. Going a fraction too fast could force you into the middle of the road, leaving you exposed to oncoming traffic.

Blind Corners
Country roads are so unpredictable that you can never know what hazards are waiting around the corner. The best way to take blind bends is to reduce your speed.

Expect The Unexpected
Conditions are always changing. You might know a road like the back of your hand, but you won't know if there's a tractor pulling out of a field or a slick of mud waiting on the road. Drive cautiously at all times.

When road conditions are changing so fast, it's even more important to make sure you're focused on the road. Ignore your cell phone, leave your radio alone and wait until you've arrived safely to eat or drink.

Be Courteous To Farmers
This is not as much of a problem during the evening hours, however being courteous to farmers on their equipment is crucial for both of your safety. The person on the tractor will pull over as soon as it's safe. You must trust their judgment, and understand that they can a) see things you can't and b) know the safest way to operate their equipment.