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How To Improve Rural Road Safety

How to improve rural road safety


Over half of all road fatalities occur on rural roads

When we consider the statistics, the dangers of rural roads are more significant than you may think. Drivers speeding through parishes and rural communities are putting themselves, other drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and animals in danger and there are unique situations in rural environments which drivers must be made more aware of.

According to Brake, cyclists, motorcyclists and car drivers are more than three times as likely to be killed per mile travelled on a rural road than on an urban road. 

Key safety issues and accident prevention measures on rural roads

According to ROSPA, accident prevention measures in rural areas should involve analysing accident data (numbers, type, contributory factors, traffic flows, crash rates, etc) to understand the key issues on each route and around key areas.

TWM can help to process and assess this data to guide and prioritise solutions to road safety issues on rural roads. This will ensure your budget is allocated to the most critical areas to help to improve road safety and reduce the number of incidents.

Vehicle activated signs on rural roads

The use of vehicle activated LED signage can be an effective solution to alert drivers to approaching hazards. Previous studies have shown that VAS make statistically significant reductions in the number of accidents at sites where they are installed, with the impact being sustained over long periods.

Vehicle activated speed limit roundels

The most critical safety issue on rural roads is speeding. Whilst the default speed limit on many rural roads is 60mph, this is often not safe given the nature of many country routes. Local authorities are able to set lower speed limits within their area but often without sufficient signage and enforcement, this can be ignored.

To address the issue of speeding, LED roundels displaying the speed limit along with LED village gateway signage can be installed. Speed indication devices (SIDs) that display the speed a driver is travelling are also an effective way to highlight speeding, particularly when combined with a SLOW DOWN safety message.

Radar technology for signage to detect hidden hazards

Crashes are most commonly caused by collisions at T-junctions, crossroads and roundabouts, head-on collisions or running off the road. Unfamiliar roads with unseen junctions can be a particular hazard on rural roads.

Many country roads are also narrower than more urban environments with blind bends and brows and limited safe places to pass. This can make it more difficult to detect oncoming vehicles, pedestrians or other road users. Intelligent transport systems can now display a message to a driver upon detection of a vehicle on the opposite side of the road using radar technology. For example, on a blind bend or brow or for a car at a junction or around a bend, it is possible to notify drivers of an oncoming or approaching vehicle. Equally should a road narrow, bespoke signage can illuminate when required.

Sensor technology for temperature detection on signage

Temperatures in rural settings can be much lower than in our towns and cities and this can impact driving conditions on rural roads. During the colder months, there is more likely to be ice and slippery conditions as well as a higher likelihood of debris which may cause drivers to swerve or lose control of the vehicle. Should drivers not be aware of the shift in temperature they can be caught out by icy surfaces.

Installation of ice warning signs with an automated temperature detector can be a useful way of warning drivers of potential hazards. When the temperature falls to an established point, alternating amber LEDs are activated.

Signage specific to country roads

Drivers on rural roads are likely to encounter farm vehicles and horse riders as well as animals and livestock on the side of the road. With horse riders and agricultural vehicles typically travelling at slower speeds, this often leads to drivers overtaking which can be dangerous and cause collisions with oncoming vehicles.

Signage used to warn of ‘horses on the road’ or display signage such as ‘beware horses’ or ‘slow horses’ can ensure drivers are more conscious of this occurrence. In known areas for regular horse crossings, such as from one bridle path to another, this signage can help to draw attention to this potentially unexpected hazard.

Equally with farm vehicles and animals, signage such as ‘Cattle/sheep likely to be in road ahead’ or ‘Agricultural vehicles likely to be in road ahead’ help to make drivers aware of the different types of hazards they can expect.

Dangers around school zones

Speeding close to schools and through villages is a key concern for a large proportion of rural communities. In areas around schools, it is important to ensure drivers are aware that they are entering an area where there are likely to be children and that correlating low-speed zones are highlighted accordingly, for instance through ‘20mph speed zone’ signage.

It is important to make drivers aware of when they are entering into school zones as they may not always be obvious in more rural locations. By utilizing safe route to school signage with twin amber flashers (TAFs) as well as LED belisha beacons, drivers can become more aware of why there is a reduced speed limit, which will help with compliance.

Avoid road clutter

Too much signage on your roads can have a detrimental impact on road safety as too much road clutter can lead to ‘sign blindness’. Instead, a good idea can be to use a solution that combines multiple safety messages, such as the VAS solution provided for Dudley Council.

Implementing intelligent signage solutions that help educate drivers on the hazards specific to rural environments will help to improve driver’s awareness of their surroundings and draw attention to the speed they are travelling at with these surrounding hazards. By installing LED vehicle activated signage, there is higher likelihood of compliance due to the greater visibility of the signage, which should in turn help to reduce the number of incidents on rural roads.

TWM can manufacture bespoke signage subject to the hazards within your area, helping to ensure drivers are made aware of them. To discuss how we can help you, contact us here.

TWM forms part of The Pilot Group, click here for more information.

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