New campaign aims to improve skill of drivers on country roads

BORDERS motorists can test out their driving skills on rural routes through the Country Road Challenge which is set to visit the region as part of a new campaign aimed at tackling country road accidents and fatalities.

Country roads account for the largest amount of fatalities on Scotland’s roads - three out of four fatalities happen on country roads, which is 190 deaths per year.

In the Borders a total of 418 people have either been killed or seriously injured in accident on our country roads in the past few years.

The Country Road Challenge offers members of the public the chance to test their ‘risk factor’ through a giant interactive game, and is part of a new campaign from the Scottish Government and Road Safety Scotland (part of Transport Scotland) to make drivers aware of how often minor distractions and driving at a speed which doesn’t give them time to read the road can cause serious accidents on country roads. Drivers’ reactions will be put to the test by the Challenge as their ability to process information is examined at varying speeds. This will determine their speed of reaction and show how often minor distractions and driving at a speed which doesn’t give them time to read the road can cause serious accidents on country roads.

Dr Neale Kinnear, Senior Psychologist from the Transport Research Laboratory, said: “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 response to a hazard just once can be fatal. Bends, junctions and other unexpected hazards like farm traffic, walkers and cyclists can all take drivers by surprise.

“By slowing down on country roads, drivers can give themselves more time to response to such hazards.”

Drivers are being encouraged to reduce their risk when driving on country roads. As part of the campaign, a series of Rural Readiness tips has been created.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

Belt up - ensure everyone in the car is wearing a seatbelt.

Find out more about the Challenge and exactly when it will be in the Borders or try it out online at dontriskit.info or the Road Safety Scotland Facebook page.