A gentle stroll along a country lane – or a dice with death?
Generally speaking, when moving around our towns and cities we are all aware of how to use our roads properly; and the abundance of traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and pathways help us share this spaces safely.
But when it comes to country lanes, we find ourselves in a much less organised and more hazardous setting. One where we may not know how to stay safe.
Many country roads aren’t wide enough for pavements, so often pedestrians have no option but to take their lives into their own hands walking home from the local shop, work or school. Doing so in daylight can be daunting enough, let alone at night, or in bad weather conditions.
Are you allowed to walk on country roads?
It’s easy to jump to conclusions and apportion blame when a pedestrian gets hit in a country lane, but it’s always a worthwhile exercise to put yourself momentarily in the other person’s shoes.
Many of us won’t think to revisit the Highway Code once we’ve passed our driving test, or we may never have looked at it if we don’t drive, but it’s a really useful, informative guide and everyone really should take the time to be acquainted with the basics from all road users’ points of view.
- If you have no option but to walk along country lanes, remember to always walk on the right-hand side of the road facing oncoming traffic, walk in single file if you’re with others, and keep as close to the side of the road as you can;
- Be more vigilant approaching bends, to allow oncoming traffic to see you; on a sharp right-hand bend it may be safer to cross to the other side and then cross back once you’re safely beyond it;
- Take a moment before you go out to think about how visible you are to motorists. Wear or carry something light-coloured or reflective;
- Keep your focus on the road; don’t make yourself more vulnerable by wearing headphones or being so glued to your mobile that you aren’t aware of what’s around you;
- If you’re driving along a country lane and see pedestrians ahead, slow right down to pass them and be prepared to have to stop suddenly particularly if there is oncoming traffic. It may seem like common-sense but you’d be surprised how many motorists don’t vary their speed at all;
- As with cyclists, give pedestrians plenty of room. Watch out for pedestrians with dogs or children. It may take a few moments to gather dogs or children in, and elderly people walking with sticks will inevitably be slower to move and less able to spring into the hedge or verge as you speed past. If that person stumbles and you are going too fast or haven’t given them enough room there could easily be a collision, even a clip with a wing mirror can cause a serious injury;
- If the weather is bad, even if it’s just windy, be aware that pedestrians might not be able to hear you coming. This is even more important if you’re a cyclist, or in one of the new hybrid or electric cars which often have little engine noise. A brief beep on your horn or ring of your cycle bell will alert others to your presence. Don’t assume that the pedestrian knows you are there.