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Beware the country dangers

2003-06-24 09:31

Broken verges are a particular problem on country roads; should you edge off the tarmac onto the loose gravel verge, don't panic and wrench the wheel. Simply and gently ease the car back safely.

On single lane country roads, vehicles can approach at closing speeds of 200 km/h, separated by just a white line on the tarmac.

The fact is that even in the most modern cars, equipped with all the desired passive safety equipment, front seat passengers are unlikely to survive a head-on impact at those speeds.

Impatience often leads to crazy moves. The time difference between driving rashly and taking due care is probably only a few minutes in a journey of 500 km.

Overtaking on twisting country single lane roads, where long straights are few and far between, is often hazardous. Drivers raised in the modest pace of city traffic can have trouble judging closing speeds and distances.

The golden rule: if in doubt, DON'T!

Wait until the road is clear for a long stretch, or until an overtaking lane comes along.

In adverse conditions, such as fog, it's a good idea to forget about overtaking unless on dual carriageways.

When approaching an overtaking lane, or multi-lane freeway, don't veer into the right-hand lane unless you're preparing to pass another car. The right-hand lane is for overtaking and you should not stay there unless you're overtaking.

Country driving often brings city people into contact with dirt or gravel roads.

Here, roadholding is reduced and stopping distances extended.

Remember an anti-lock braking system, so useful in wet or dry on bitumen, is nowhere near as effective on loose surfaces.

If your vehicle is fitted with ABS, give yourself 50% more space in which to stop on dirt or, particularly, gravel.

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