Driving demands full attention, concentration, and good judgment. This is true for someone who’s been driving for 35 years or for a teenager who just passed a road test.
But driving in a big city poses different challenges from those you might face on rural lanes. If your trip takes you from an urban environment to the open country, you need to watch out for changing weather or reduced speed limits. Also, the dangers of merging buses and bicyclists shift to raccoon and deer loping into your lane.
City and rural roads have their own distinct driving challenges. You should know how to handle each one.
In the City
Cities can becongested places to drive. Sometimes it seems everyone is in a hurry. When cars creep along, bumper-to-bumper, a fender-bender can happen easily. To avoid crashing bumpers, it’s important to keep a safe distance between your car and other vehicles and to give yourself room to stop.
Other cars aren’t the only hazard on city streets. Drivers need to watch out for pedestrians. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010, 4,280 pedestrians were killed and about 70,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States. 73 percent of pedestrian fatalities happened in urban areas.
It’s important to remember that cars must always yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks. The NHTSA says drivers should be especially careful to watch for pedestrians when turning a corner.
On Rural Roads
You might assume that the wide-open roads of the country would be safer for driving than city streets. According to the NHTSA, even though only 23 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas in 2008, 56 percent of all traffic fatalities that year happened in those areas.
Rural roadways pose their own set of challenges. According to the Iowa Driver’s Manual, blind spots, wildlife, and varying road conditions can all be hazardous to drivers on rural roads.
Hills and mountains are beautiful but create blind spots and dangerous curves. Drive slowly on those winding roads. This is especially true if you’re driving in bad weather.
The composition of roads in remote areas can also pose a challenge. Stopping and turning can be more difficult on loose gravel. Driving over dirt roads can kick up dust and impede visibility.
While rural roads may have fewer pedestrians, there’s no shortage of wildlife in many places. Deer and other wild animals sometimes run into the road, so your attention and concentration need to remain sharp.
Urban and Rural Driving
There are some differences between rural and urban roads, but speeding and distracted driving can be dangerous no matter where you are. Obey all traffic laws, including varying speed limits. Pay attention to changing weather conditions and to your own driving. This can go a long way toward helping you to stay safe on the road.
This guest post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.