Driving on a country road

On country roads, the speed limit is often higher than in built-up areas and the traffic environment is less structured. For this reason, it is important to have good safety margins and to pay attention to what is going on further down the road.

The car turning into petrol station.

The car turning into the petrol station on the right is using the hard shoulder appropriately.

Turning on a country road

Right turn

Indicate in good time and slow down gradually. If visibility is good, you may drive on the hard shoulder just before the turn, as this makes it easier for the vehicles behind you to pass.

Left turn

Turning left on a country road is probably the most dangerous type of turn you can make. The reason for this is that you are driving at high speeds, while the security is not at the same level as on the motorway.

How to make a left turn and possible ways to reduce the risks:

  1. Check the traffic flow
    In rush hour traffic, it can be difficult to find a gap to use for your turn. In that case, it is safer not to make the turn, but instead drive straight ahead, turn in a suitable location and then come back and make a right turn. If there is less traffic, continue to the next step.
  2. Indicating & placement
    Indicate left in good time and place your car as close to the centre line as possible. This makes it easier for other traffic users to see that you are turning. If you place yourself in the middle of the lane, it is possible that the cars behind you will not notice you slowing down, which can result in a rear-end collision, or a side collision if the car behind you starts overtaking at the same time as you make the turn.
  3. Avoid stopping
    Adapt your deceleration before the turn so that you do not have to stop and wait for the oncoming lane to be free of traffic. If you have to stop, make sure not to turn the wheels to the left, as this will make go out into the oncoming lane if you are hit from the rear.
  4. Focus on making the turn
    Once you are ready to turn, it is important to focus on the distance to the oncoming traffic. Also remember to put the car in the right gear – stay in 1st and accelerate fairly quickly until you are safely on the new road. Stalling in the middle of the oncoming lane is very dangerous!

In order to reduce the number of left turns, the road is sometimes reconstructed for a Spanish turn. This means that you turn off on a small exit to the right and then cross the road.

Maintain the appropriate distance

Cars. The distance is insufficient.

The distance is insufficient. Note the verge posts.

Drivers not maintaining sufficient distance on a country road are very common. You can use the rule of thumb below to keep an appropriate distance.

  • The three-second rule
    Start counting when the car in front of you is at a fixed point (such as a road sign) and stop counting when you reach that point yourself. If it took less than 3 seconds, the distance between you is too short.
  • Reflective verge posts
    The distance between two white reflective verge posts is 50 m. 100 m, i.e. 3 posts, is usually a good distance to keep to the car in front of you when driving on a country road.
  • Km/h to m
    Change km/h of your speed to metres and it will usually give you an appropriate distance to the car in front. For example 90 m at a speed of 90 km/h.

If the car behind you is too close

Cars driving too close are both annoying and dangerous. You can reduce the risks by maintaining a great distance to the car in front of you, which means that you do not have to brake as hard if the car in front of you slows down. This reduces the risk of you being hit from the rear and potentially suffering a whiplash injury.

Another way is to simply go into a parking space and let the stressed driver behind you pass.

Oncoming cars

  • The basic rule is that you should keep to the right in order to have as great a safety margin as possible.
  • The first car to arrive at the passing place shall stop, irrespective of which side the passing place is on.
  • If there is an obstacle on the road, the car whose side the obstacle is on shall stop and wait.

Roadworks

Private road

Sign indicating a private road.

Sign indicating a private road.

If you encounter a private road sign, you should be prepared for the following:

  • Poor road standard
  • Lack of road signs
  • Narrow road
  • Sharp turns

Horses

Today, cars rather than horses are used as transport. However, there are still horses in traffic and as they are live animals, they require special consideration:

  • Lower your speed.
  • Make sure you have more space than normal to the sides.
  • Do not sound your horn.
  • Do not dazzle.
  • Accelerate calmly after the encounter (the sound of the engine may frighten the horse).

Also remember that the riders are often young with little experience of traffic. Having eye contact with the rider is very helpful.

Practice theory tests

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Last updated 2017-09-07.