Gravel roads can be a great way to avoid the highway. They are the topic of most country songs and they sure do bring back memories for some - but there are several tips to help avoid trouble while travelling them. If you've lived in 'the country' you have travelled and maybe even lived on a gravel road - but not all drivers have had the experience.
GRAVEL ROAD - DRIVING TIPS
It's simple - keeping your speed down allows you to maintain control of your vehicle. Large, grabby windrows (that line of material along the shoulder) can pull you in fast if you aren't paying attention.
About two-thirds of fatal collisions and 30% of injury crashes occur on rural roads.
Gravel roads without posted speed limit signs are 80 km/hr - and that is only if the weather and road conditions are ideal. Speed should always be adjusted according to the driving conditions.
If you are passing someone coming toward you, etiquette states that you move over to the right as far as you are safely able and slow right down until you are completely passed the other vehicle. If another vehicle is travelling behind you and visibility is an issue, be extra cautious.
Remember - the faster you travel, the more likely it is you are kicking up stones at other vehicles.
Don't do that - slow down and be courteous. Everyone will get where they're going. It's the country. Enjoy it.
2. Drive in the ruts. What we mean is, drive in the tracks that are already on the road. It is safer than trying to balance a vehicle doing 80 km/hr on the edges of them.
3. Dust Control
If you can't see, you can't drive safely. Never follow the vehicle in front of you (if there is one) too closely - they are kicking up dust and you won't be able to see when they go to stop. Leave enough distance between you and the other vehicle so you avoid a collision. A ten second count is a good gauge of how far behind a vehicle you should stay.
4. Skidding? Take your foot off of the gas, relax and steer normally. Deep breath - and slow down!
5. If wildlife decides it is going to cross in front of you, you don't want to be swerving to avoid them on a gravel road. You can imagine why.
6. Keep both hands on the wheel at all times. A vehicle can easily be pulled in either direction quickly if your vehicle hits uneven areas.
7. Turn on your lights. It's a gravel road with a lot of dust. You want to be seen.
8. Vehicle tires don't do as well on gravel as they do on the highway. They can't grip the road as easily and the risk of losing control is greater. Slowing down will help you stay on the road.
9. You are not in an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard. Get to your destination safely.
Above all else, take common sense with you on every car trip. Gravel roads are beautiful, but they can be dangerous if not respected. Enjoy the ride and take care of each other out there.