Monday, 04 August 2014 08:52

Rural roads treated 'like racetracks'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural roads treated 'like racetracks'

MOTORISTS are being urged to slow down on rural roads after one in three drivers admitted driving too fast.

Some 33% of drivers admit driving too fast for safety on country roads, by speeding, taking bends fast or overtaking, reveal results from road safety charity Brake and Digby Brown solicitors.

Four in 10 (37%) have had a near-miss on a rural roads, while driving, walking or cycling.

Since there is less traffic on country roads, some drivers feel a false sense of security and are prone to take risks like speeding, overtaking, and not slowing down for brows and bends.

In fact, rural roads are the most dangerous for all types of road user per mile travelled.

Car occupants are almost twice as likely to be killed on a country road than an urban road, motorcyclists more than twice as likely, and cyclists more than three times as likely.

Country roads are also the most dangerous type of road in relation to traffic volume, accounting for 60% of all road deaths:

In 2013, 895 people were killed on non-built up roads, up 1% on 2012, and 6,554 seriously injured, compared to 718 killed on built-up roads and 100 killed on motorways.

The survey of 1,000 UK drivers also found:

* One in five (19%) admit breaking speed limits on rural roads in the past year
* Three in 20 (15%) admit taking corners or brows too fast
* One in 20 (5%) admit overtaking when it isn't safe

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said fast traffic put lives at risk. "We hear constantly from people in rural areas whose communities are blighted by fast traffic."

People shouldn't have to "contend with drivers treating the roads as their personal racetrack," said Ms Townsend. "Driving in this way is incredibly selfish," she added.

"People in rural communities and families visiting these areas this summer have a right to enjoy their surroundings without fearing for their safety.

"Country roads are not empty thoroughfares for traffic; they are living environments, full of unpredictable hazards around every twist and turn.

"We are urging drivers to slow right down on country roads this summer, especially for villages, bends, brows and bad weather, to respect the countryside and other people's right to enjoy it."

Brake is calling on government to lower limits on rural roads to a maximum of 50mph.

Seven in 10 respondents were in favour of more 50, 40 and 30mph limits on rural roads, and two thirds (65%) were in favour of a 40mph default in national parks.

Last month, however, the government said the speed limit for heavy goods vehicles on single carriageway roads in England and Wales would increase from 40mph to 50 mph by April 2015.

Hauliers and lorry drivers believe the move will reduce congestion and the risk of people dying in dangerous overtaking manoeuvres.

Geoff Dunning, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said: "The current limit is long out-of-date and the frustration it generates causes unnecessary road safety risk.

"We consider this announcement to be a real win for the RHA. We have lobbied long and hard on this issue and this positive outcome is a result of members' input and support."

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  • Guest (Rob)

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    Well said Tim, It is long overdue. I felt that I needed to reassure myself that I was still driving well 25 years after my driving test as a teenager, so I took an advanced driving test with the IAM. It is very reassuring to be tested by a Police examiner and be told you are a good driver. More people should do it. if you drive well its very straight forward. Unfortunately bad drivers are the ones who will not volunteer to retest and for that reason retesting should be mandatory.

  • I would like to add a comment about cyclists. I live in a rural community and whilst travelling to and from my business location I encounter groups of cyclists riding two or more abreast with no thought for the dangers involved with this practice on blind corners and farm entrances.
    Their appearance generally echoes that of cycling professionals with the helmet, dark glasses and attire covered in advertising logos. Come on guys, this is rural Britain and not the Tour De France!.

  • Guest (Janice Bridger)

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    Well said Peter. Roads are not supposed to be race tracks. I can't help but conclude that the cycling TV coverage is encouraging some cyclists to think that it is OK to think so. Not wise.

  • Guest (Maggie)

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    I have no problem with cyclists but I wish they would show a bit more care. On several occasions when driving my horse along a quite, country lane, one or more cyclists have come hurtling along, heads down, and blissfully unaware of other road users, nearly ending up colliding with us. It has got so bad now that my usually, ''scared of nothing'' horse is getting spooky with cyclists. The problem is they are so quite and we just cannot hear them. :(

  • Guest (Maureen Comber)

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    With only 20% of rights of way as bridleways, horse riders are forced to use the country lanes to connect. We are told that we might survive impact with a motor vehicle at 30mph so why is the countryside environment treated differently, with 60mph being the norm even on the lanes? Many of us would relish the thought of using our mobility s******s to exercise the dog but are simply too afraid of not being able to get out of the way in time and are therefore disenfranchised.

    from Bordon, Bordon, Hampshire GU35, UK
  • Guest (Carol Cole)

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    Our very rural road has become extremely dangerous due to rat runners en route to and from work. This has become even worse since the closure of the A344 at Stonehenge. Another ever present peril is the young wannabe racing drivers who find it necessary to try to emulate their Formula One heroes by tearing round corners and going flat out on the straight usually emitting illegal sound levels from their pathetic very ordinary clapped-out cheap old bangers.

  • Guest (Carol Cole)

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    Cars speed regularly past our house. Speed bumps are the only efficient deterrent.

  • Guest (Guest)

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    I live in a rural location very popular with visitors , the small road network is used by all manner of users , cars , delivery vans ( on another Amazon delivery mission) lorries ( HGVs included, usually following Sat Nav which is not a great idea as the roads are unsuitable in many cases with weight restrictions on small pack bridges and hairpins ) farm traffic ( oversized tractors, stock etc )horses , walkers, cyclists, and motorbikers ( TT rider wanabes) tolerance and respect is needed by all

  • Tolerance and respect have been a long time coming and are something that I am still awaiting the return of.
    Sadly todays big society does not seem to know the meaning of the words.
    Despite all the equality, health and safety and environmental laws, our Tolkien like lanes remain unsafe for vulnerable road users while the speed limit remains at 60mph. I would say they are not even safe for dual user.

    from Bordon, Bordon, Hampshire GU35, UK
  • Guest (Ed)

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    The article is totally flawed and is yet another rant from Brake which is an unelected and unaccountable body. The issue is not arbitrarily set speed limits but the quality and courteousness of drivers, cyclists, bikers, horse riders etc as has been said above. The IAM provides excellent training/assessment and reduces insurance premiums as a result. Note that bikers have higher skill levels than most road users and have to pass more tests. Perhaps ALL road users should have to undergo similar?

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