Before You Take the Back Roads, Keep These Tips From Our Huntington Car Accident Lawyers in Mind.
Remote or rural roads are not designed for efficient, high-speed travel, and there are many safety hazards drivers are likely to face.
West Virginia, nicknamed the “Mountain State,” is filled with curvy back roads. For this reason, it’s important for residents to understand the dangers of rural driving and how they can safely navigate those dangers.
Taking the back roads can be a great way to experience the beautiful scenery West Virginia has to offer. However, our Huntington car accident lawyers at Stewart Bell, PLLC have seen the effects a rural driving accident can have on an individual and their family. Keep reading to learn more about safety practices, so you can enjoy the countryside and arrive at your destination safely.
What Makes Rural Driving Dangerous?
Many drivers assume that highways and busy city streets are far more dangerous than rural roads. While heavy traffic and narrow, confusing road patterns can certainly be intimidating, rural driving can actually be even more dangerous than urban driving conditions.
Rural roads present their own set of hazards that frequently lead to serious and even fatal accidents. Here are some of the factors that make driving on rural roads so dangerous:
Lack of Guardrails and Safety Barriers
Most major highways have guardrails lining the sides of the road, as well as a median or barrier in the center dividing north and south or east and west flowing traffic. These barriers prevent cars traveling in opposite directions from crashing into each other head-on.
Many rural roads, on the other hand, do not have anything separating oncoming vehicles. This makes it very easy for another driver to swerve into your lane without warning, increasing the risk of a head-on collision.
Little Maintenance During Inclement Weather
While bad weather conditions make driving on any road dangerous, it is especially true on rural roadways. Water, mud, and ice present serious risks for drivers on winding rural roads, as these weather conditions can cause cars to crash into a ditch or tree.
Driving at night is especially dangerous because you likely won’t notice slippery patches of ice or puddles of water and mud on poorly lit back roads. What’s more, unlike highways, many rural roads are ‘unadopted,’ meaning they don’t receive any maintenance, such as salting or snow removal, during these bad weather conditions.
Rural roads often come with unique hazards that you likely won’t find on city streets. For example, many rural roads pass through farmland where you might come into contact with crossing cows, horses, or slow-moving tractors and other farm equipment. Countryside hazards, such as these, can be just around the bend of any rural road. Accidents involving large farm animals or heavy-duty tractors are often severe and life-threatening.
More Reckless Drivers
While you will certainly find reckless drivers on densely populated city highways, too, many drivers on rural roads don’t pay as much attention to what’s in front of them as they do when they’re traveling on congested roadways.
You’re also more likely to encounter drunk drivers and other reckless behavior, such as tailgating, on rural roads since there is likely to be less of a police presence on lesser traveled roads than in large urban areas.
Poor Condition of West Virginia’s Roads Poses Major Threat to Drivers
In addition to the dangers rural driving presents, many back roads and bridges throughout rural West Virginia are in poor condition and desperately need repair. In fact, West Virginia delegate Ralph Rodighiero stated that the condition of the state’s secondary roads and bridges have become a “state of emergency,” WSAZ News reported.
Potholes, crumbling asphalt, and road slips are common on winding back roads across the Mountain State. “What was a pothole a year ago, has now become the whole side of the mountain slipped in,” a resident told WSAZ News.
The poor condition of West Virginia back roads pose serious risks for drivers and can result in life-altering or even fatal accidents.
Country Roads Take Me Home Safely: Tips for Driving on Rural Roads
Now that you’re aware of the serious dangers of driving on rural roads, it’s important to understand how you can avoid an accident. Keep the following tips in mind whenever you decide to take the back roads home:
1 – The Speed Limit Isn’t Always Safe
Speed limits provide a maximum guideline for how fast you can legally travel on the roadways. However, you will likely need to drive slower than the designated speed limit on some rural roads.
Unlike straight stretches of highway where it is usually safe to maintain the speed limit, rural road conditions can change rapidly. Sharp turns and unexpected hazards may arise and require you to drive much slower than the posted speed limit to avoid a crash. It is crucial to be alert and slow down for changing road conditions, even if that means driving slower than the legal speed limit. When it comes to rural driving, a good rule of thumb is ‘better slow than sorry.’
2 – Be Extra Cautious of Blind Curves
Rural roads that wind through the mountainous areas of West Virginia can be too narrow for passing and contain many blind curves that prevent drivers from seeing approaching traffic. What’s more, many of these roads follow the topography of the landscape, resulting in unexpected dips and rises in the road.
To navigate a blind curve safely, slow down and keep to the right. Watch for dust or other signs that might indicate another vehicle is entering the curve. If your visibility is severely lacking, it can also be helpful to politely sound your horn to warn other drivers.
3 – Be Patient
Patience is a virtue, especially when traveling on rural roads. Succumbing to road rage, tailgating, or other reckless behavior on rural roads significantly increases the chances of being involved in an accident.
Encountering slow-moving farm equipment or livestock on the roads can be frustrating, however, it is always best to slow down and wait patiently for the road to clear. More often than not, tractors and other farm machinery will be traveling a short distance on the road. If you do decide to pass, make sure that the road ahead is clear and that you pass safely and courteously.
Similarly, when passing large animals near the edges of the road, drive slowly in case they suddenly move onto the road. If a group of animals is blocking your path, the safest move is to slow down, stop, and wait for them all to cross. Never attempt to weave through a group of cows or deer, for example. Animals may become startled easily and run into your car.
Involved in an Accident on a Rural Road? Stewart Bell Can Help
Taking the necessary precautions when driving on rural roads can significantly lower your chances of being involved in a vehicle accident. However, what happens if you’re injured in an accident due to another driver’s carelessness? Call the legal team at Stewart Bell, PLLC.
Our Huntington car accident lawyers fight on the behalf of individuals who have been injured through no fault of their own. If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident on a rural road or any road in West Virginia, we can help you fight for the maximum amount of compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Don’t hesitate to give our law office a call today at (304) 345-1700, or fill out our contact form below to schedule a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys represent the residents of Charleston, Huntington, Dunbar, and other surrounding West Virginia communities. We’ll review the details of your accident to determine your legal options.