Motorists urged to follow the ‘byway code’


SCOTS motorists are being warned to take extra care on journeys in rural areas amid treacherous winter driving conditions.

According to the RAC Foundation, 60 per cent of all deadly car crashes in the UK occur on country roads.

Unlit, winding and bumpy roads in rural areas can be dangerous for those not used to driving on the quieter lanes and become even riskier in winter. So the experts at car warranty company MotorEasy have issued a number of safety tips.

Before setting off on your journey, be sure to check both Traffic Scotland and local authority websites and social media pages for real-time updates on road closures.

By doing this, you can minimize the risk of unexpected detours along country lanes and plan your route accordingly.

While the national speed limit for single carriageway country roads is technically 60mph, keep your speed down if you are at all uncertain.

With blind bends, uneven terrain and no pavements for pedestrians and cyclists, it is worth using judgment and driving at an appropriate speed depending on the type of road.

Tire grip is also greatly reduced on snowy and icy roads, and losing proper contact with the surface below your wheels can be the cause of many dangerous situations for motorists.

Take care when overtaking – the RAC reported that 59 per cent of fatal car accidents had driver error or reaction reported as a contributing factor leading to the accident.

Country lanes are well known for having sharp bends with high hedges, which can reduce the visibility for safely overtaking of another road user.

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A car negotiates a snowy country road
A car negotiates a snowy country road

Always be aware of your surroundings – if there seems to be debris on the road, this may be why the vehicle in front is driving slower than the speed limit. Don’t overtake if you don’t need to.

Use your brakes gently and remember the braking distances on icy or wet roads increases dramatically compared with a dry surface. Slamming on the brakes will increase the risk of skidding as the tires will lose traction with the road.

If you encounter a slippery patch such as black ice, tap the brakes gently multiple times and use a higher gear to aid grip when pulling away again.

Also, make sure you know how to alter the steering when faced with either a front or back end skid – the general advice is to keep steering normally in the direction you want to travel.

But in more extreme situations, for example, if the rear of the car slides out to the right, you need to carefully steer right towards the skid to counteract it.

If the front of the car starts to skid, keep steering normally, focus on your route ahead and try to steer the car back on course.

Be prepared in case of breakdowns as it may take recovery companies longer to reach your location if you experience issues in the countryside.

Always keep items such as a torch with spare batteries, a portable phone charger, a warm blanket and an extra jacket with hat and gloves in the car to be prepared.

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MotorEasy boss Duncan McClure-Fisher said: “During the winter months, it is crucial that motorists are mindful of the varying driving conditions that they may encounter, and adapt their speed accordingly.

“Driving on potentially icy countryside roads requires a sharp focus, anticipation and ability to drive with extra caution and care due to the unpredictable nature of the road conditions.

“During winter, country roads may not be gritted and are especially prone to flooding – so it is advisable to stick to main roads where possible in order to reach your destination safely.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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