Your drivers are probably familiar with common hazards of highways, such as congestion, construction and distracted drivers. But what about rural roads? They might not seem as daunting but there are many hazards unique to rural roads that your drivers should be aware of.

Rural roads have many characteristics that can make driving in a truck difficult. They often have blind curves, narrow widths, no shoulder or guard rails, soft surfaces such as gravel or dirt, rough or damaged surfaces, and unusually steep hills or sharp curves. Also, rural roads may not be as clearly marked and navigation systems may not accurately portray rural routes.

People tend to drive faster than the speed limit on rural roads because they think they are less likely to get pulled over by police. Truck drivers should look out for cars that tailgate or try to pass them. At the same time, your drivers may quickly approach slow-moving farm vehicles and equipment, which may enter the roadway from side streets that are hidden from truck drivers’ views. These vehicles don’t typically stay on the road too long so drivers should remain patient and maintain a safe following distance until the farm vehicles turn off the main road.

There are several weather-related hazards that drivers need to look out for on rural roads. For example, in some states, dust storms can greatly decrease visibility. In the winter, rural roads are typically not plowed or salted as quickly or as frequently as highways and urban roads. Drivers will also need to watch for deer, livestock and other animals that might run onto the road. Collisions with animals tend to happen just after dusk and just before dawn, when visibility is low.

Here are some basic guidelines you can share with your drivers to help keep them safe on rural roads:

  • Slow down and increase following distance.
  • Increase visibility by turning on headlights and always using turn signals.
  • Use four-way flashers to alert other drivers of vehicles on the road that are moving 15 mph or more under the speed limit.
  • Be patient and pass carefully. Never pass on a hill, curve or within 100 feet of an intersection or railroad crossing.
  • Watch for pedestrians, bicyclists, horseback riders and animals that may be near or on the roadway.
  • Don’t become distracted by the rural scenery.

It’s especially important that your drivers exercise caution on rural roads because they may have to wait longer for medical attention in the event of an accident. It often takes emergency responders longer to arrive on the scene of accidents in rural areas.

  • Categorized in:
  • Driving Techniques
  • Transportation Safety
  • Weather Conditions
  • Sharing the Road