13- Driving on Rural Roads

Goal: Teach your teen to drive safely and with confidence on two-lane rural roads.

Location: A two-lane rural road.

Coach your teen to notice and respond to these hazards.

Lesson one – driving hazards

Large/slow vehicles: Slower trucks, farm vehicles and road maintenance equipment are likely to make wide turns at unmarked entrances. Use caution and make sure the driver can see your vehicle before passing.

Sharp drop-offs and gravel shoulders: 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. If you run off the road, follow these steps to ease your vehicle back onto the road:

  • Do not turn the wheel; continue driving straight.
  • Take your foot off the accelerator.
  • Find a safe place to reenter the road.
  • Turn on your turn signal.

Blind spots: Trees, cornfields, buildings, and hills can block a driver’s view of oncoming traffic entering from the side. Identify blind spots to better anticipate and prepare for potential dangers.

Uncontrolled intersections: They are not controlled by yield or stop signs. Use caution, slow down, and prepare to stop for oncoming traffic. The vehicle on the right has the right of way. The vehicle on the left should yield.

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.

If you see an animal, slow down and prepare to stop. Always be on the lookout, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Hills and curves: These are often steeper and sharper on rural roads than on highways. Before reaching the crest of a hill or entering a curve, slow down, move to the right side and watch for traffic.

Railroad crossings: Always slow down, look both ways and prepare to stop. Many railroad crossings are marked only with a round, yellow “railroad crossing ahead” warning sign and a white X-shaped railroad crossing. There may not be flashing lights, warning bells, crossing gates or pavement markings.

Highway hypnosis: This condition can result from driving for a long period of time. Remind your teen that it is important to stay alert when driving. To avoid driving in a dulled, drowsy, trance-like state, take frequent breaks and stop if you begin to feel tired.

Velocitation: This is caused by slowing down after driving fast for a long time. The change makes you think the car is going much slower than it actually is, leading you to drive faster than you intend. Don’t be misled. After slowing down, make sure to check your speedometer regularly.

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.