Driving Defensively in Rural Areas

An important part of driving defensively on the road is being aware of other drivers. However, when driving in rural areas, there typically is a low number of drivers to share the road with. This means that driving in the country is a breeze and there is nothing to worry about right? Wrong. Here is a list of hazards to look out for while driving in rural areas.


In the year 2000 there were 247,000 vehicle crashes involving animals in the U.S. While driving in rural areas it is important to watch for both livestock and wild animals. If you encounter a herd of cattle or other livestock crossing the road, drive slowly and allow them to cross safely. Clear warning signs fo animal hazards include

  • Roadkill present on the side of the road
  • Cattle guards
  • Animal scat near road

Unmarked Driveways

A commonality in rural driving is for driveways or farm entrances to be unmarked. This makes it difficult for a driver to see vehicles pulling out onto the road. This makes it important to drive below or at the speed limit. Speeding lowers your reaction time and increases your chance of colliding with a vehicle pulling out of a hard to see driveway.

Rough Roads

Roads in rural areas receive less maintenance than those in high traffic areas. Common characteristics of rural roads include potholes, soft shoulders, and loose gravel. Another hazard to look for during or after rain is water accumulated on uneven or unpaved rural roads. It is wise to take extra caution to avoid these hazards, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area.

Rural driving can allow you to see some beautiful landscapes and is often a pleasant break from the city. When enjoying the country roads just remember to stay alert and stay safe.