9- Driving on Rural Roads

Mountain driving: Mountain driving is common in Idaho, so drivers must understand its unique challenges. The weight of your vehicle will work against you when going up and downhill. It is illegal to coast downhill in neutral as it may cause your vehicle to speed up and lose control. Shift to a lower gear if you are braking often when going downhill.

Mountain weather can create hazardous driving conditions, including fog, snow and ice. Conditions can change quickly and shaded areas can remain slick when sunny areas are dry.

The higher the altitude, the less oxygen there is in the air. Some people may react to the decrease in oxygen. They may develop mild symptoms, such as headache, nausea, and/or fatigue. Remember, insufficient hydration can lead to the onset of symptoms of altitude sickness. Even if they are mild, they can affect your alertness as a driver.

Desert driving: Desert driving has it own unique challenges, including intense daytime heat that can cause vehicle malfunctions and blinding solar glare.

Before driving in hot desert conditions make sure your vehicle is prepared. Radiator fluids should be checked when the engine is cool. Tire pressure should be checked regularly and kept at the recommended pressure. Tires that are over or under-inflated can cause tire failure.

Rural (country) driving: Nearly twice as many fatal crashes happen on rural roads than on urban roads. Road surfaces can vary greatly from paved to dirt or loose gravel. Shoulders, if any, may be narrow. Night driving without street lights makes it difficult to see. Here it’s important to remember Idaho’s “Basic Rule” when it comes to speed: You can only drive the speed limit if conditions are ideal.

Rural intersections: At higher speeds a driver can easily miss a stop sign. Last second reactions at higher speeds can result in loss of control and a crash.

Animals: If unable to stop for an animal crossing the road, do NOT swerve – swerving makes it hard to keep control. The most serious crashes happen when drivers swerve into oncoming traffic or roll into a ditch. It’s important to constantly look ahead to avoid something that may appear in your path. If you see an animal, slow down and prepare to stop. Always be on the lookout, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Off-road recovery: One of the most common driving hazards is running off the road. The urge to overcorrect is strong and often results in a serious crash. Follow these steps to ease your vehicle back onto the road.

  • Grip the wheel tightly and steer straight ahead.
  • Stay on the shoulder if there are no immediate obstacles.
  • Do not immediately turn the wheel aggressively to re-enter the roadway. Oversteering will cause your vehicle to roll or to shoot across the centerline.
  • Take your foot off the accelerator.
  • Find a safe place to reenter the road.
  • Turn on your turn signal and reenter the road when it is clear.

Gravel slide

Be ready for skids. A vehicle can become difficult to handle in heavy gravel. If the vehicle starts to skid, release the accelerator or brakes. As you release them, look where you want to go, and steer in that direction.