- Three people die every day on country roads
- A third of fatalities on country roads happen on bends
- Problem is most acute among young drivers who cut corners and overtake on blind bends
- New THINK! campaign encourages drivers to brake before the bend, not on it
New figures from the Department for Transport reveal that country roads are the deadliest, with an average of three people dying on them every day last year.
In total, 1,040 people were killed and 9,051 seriously injured on country roads in 2014, with a third (348) of fatalities occurring on a bend.
In spite of this, almost a quarter of road users surveyed admit to braking too late on bends and two fifths (41%) claimed to have swerved to avoid something in the road.
The problem is most acute among young drivers, with a third confessing to braking too late before a bend and more than 1 in 10 admitting to ‘taking the racing line’ by crossing into the opposite side of the road to take a turn faster. Young drivers are also the most likely age group to overtake on a bend without a clear road ahead.
In response, THINK! has launched a new country roads campaign. THINK! has partnered with a farmer to turn potential road hazards into impossible-to-ignore warning signs. ‘Helpful hazards’ features animals and vehicles sprayed with helpful signs prompting drivers to slow down, anticipate hazards and brake before the bend, not on it.
Former England rugby player and countryside resident Phil Vickery said in support of the campaign:
“As someone who lives in the countryside, I do a lot of driving on winding country roads every day. I’m often shocked at the lack of care other drivers take when driving around blind bends. Both my wife and I have been involved in several near misses, and minor incidents, so this is something very close to my heart. You never know what might be around the corner: from cyclists, horse riders and wildlife to debris and slow-moving vehicles, we all have a duty of care to be respectful to all users of the countryside and keep each other safe.”
British Touring Car champion James Cole is also backing the campaign. He said: “I’m concerned that so many people take the racing line on bends. It’s one thing to do that in a racetrack environment but quite another to do it with no knowledge of what is around the corner. Take more care, anticipate hazards, stay in control and give yourself more time to react by braking before the bend, not on it.”
Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “Our country roads and lanes are for everyone. They are for drivers, walkers, riders, cyclists and, of course, farmers. They are often beautiful, lined by high hedges and dry stone walls. They are part of rural life. But they also account for the majority of fatal crashes. Even if you think you know a road like the back of your hand, you can never be sure what’s round the corner. So let’s keep our country roads safe for everyone too. Please take care, and keep your speed down.”