I’m always amazed by the number of city dwellers who tell me how nervous they are about driving on rural roads.
Why? Well, I thought they would be battle-hardened by the cut and thrust of city driving. And I know lots of people who live in the country but won’t drive in the city. So it works both ways.
I spend a lot of time driving on rural roads so if you’re an urban dweller and just a bit nervous about your next sojourn ‘down the country’, I have an insider’s guide to rural roads to make you more nervous.
Don’t say you weren’t prepared!
1. Weather conditions
Check the weather forecast before you go. Expect icy patches and snow on higher ground. Don’t be the soft city person that gets caught out up the mountains because “it was sunny when we left”. Beware of low-lying sun in winter.
2. General poor condition of the road
Don’t be put off by the grass in the middle of the road. We promise that there is a big metropolis at the end of that grassy lane. Road maintenance tends not to be an Irish rural road strong point. Watch out for the potholes and craters. The locals will know where the big ones are, so if you’re lucky to have one in front, watch what they’re doing carefully. They’re not drunk – they’re just dodging the potholes.
3. Evidence of agricultural activity
Beware the mud on road. This is the country and we’re busy doing agricultural stuff and it’s only a bit of mud on the road so slow down and don’t be worrying about your car getting dirty. Sure what were you doing cleaning it before coming down here anyway?
4. Poor road signage and markings
Signposts are never mandatory, just optional. We’re not good on this stuff, see the road was resurfaced last year but the council hasn’t got around to redoing the markings yet. But sure we all know where the middle of the road is so what does it matter? The signage is a bit hit and miss as well but sure you probably have the sat nav all set up in there so you’re grand altogether. What, no signal? Unidentified road. Should have brought a map.
5. Overgrown hedgerows
There are rules about cutting back the hedgerows so just take your time in summer when they’re at their thickest.
6. UAVs (Unidentified Agricultural Vehicles)
As we said, we’re very busy doing agricultural stuff so we’re out in our agricultural vehicles a lot, sometimes in convoy and no one is getting by us anytime soon – so sit back, calm down and enjoy the scenery. We’re only going up the road and turning in, not that you’ll know we’re turning in because we’ve no lights or indicators on this trailer. Sure we’re only going a short distance.
Beware deer, foxes, rabbits, badgers etc. crossing the road. If you come around a corner and there are cattle or sheep being moved, do not get angry and impatient. Wait casually until the road is clear, smile and wave at the farmer.
It’s the countryside and from time to time we have to spread this stinky stuff called slurry on our fields so roll up your windows or turn off the air con, get on with it and don’t complain.
You’re one of these too (sort of), but we’re hoping you’re in a car. Don’t come near us if you’re in a motorhome or dragging a caravan. We don’t want you clogging up our little roads.
10. Unexpected road changes
Fully expect to be driving swiftly down a road and come around a corner to find that where there was space for two cars, is now only fit for one. We’re not too good on the ‘road narrows’ signs. Or maybe it fell into the ditch or is covered by the hedgerows.
11. Slow moving vehicles
Can be of the agricultural type or an associated vehicle, like a van or 4×4. I’m only out for the paper, don’t mind me.
12. Fast moving vehicles
We are drivers of extremes in the country. Rural road speeder is alive and well, but now has a smartphone too to keep up to date on ‘the Facebook’.
And finally while driving in the country…
- Never, ever, beep your horn. We don’t like impatient city folk. Don’t be bringing your city driving style to our rural idylls.
- It’s common to wave at oncoming drivers even if you don’t have a clue who they are. Don’t be rude.
- That also applies to people out walking. You have to give them a wave too. Just one finger will do (but not that finger!)
- There will be mud – top up windscreen washer fluid before you set off.
- Expect the unexpected.
- The white line is just a guideline.