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Safe driving tips for Virginia’s rural roads

By Ken Gibson on April 7, 2020

When you imagine a car accident, you might think of two or more cars, one being drunk or distracted, on a busy highway or at a crowded intersection. While this is a common scenario, car accidents happen just as often on a rural road as in a heavily trafficked urban center. Furthermore, the remote nature of rural roads can make it difficult for emergency services to respond quickly, sometimes resulting in greater loss of life.

When you drive on one of Virginia’s many rural roads, you want to know the best practices to keep you and your passengers safe.

Costs of poor road maintenance

First, some background: Each year, Virginia loses $9.5 billion from the deterioration of roads, according to estimates by Tripnet. This amount represents the average cost Virginia drivers bear from longer driving hours, higher gas costs, lost time, and damage to vehicles, all caused by the quality of our roads. Sadly, the Commonwealth is behind on improving or repairing road conditions, which means our roads will continue to cost drivers more each year.

The same study also drew a connection between road conditions and traffic fatalities in Virginia. Within a recent year, poor road conditions were a contributing factor to one-third of all traffic fatalities, which means another $2.1 billion in economic losses. Fatal accidents were also three times more likely to occur on a non-interstate rural road.

Clearly, the quality of Virginia’s roads, particularly rural roads, plays a major role in traffic accidents. Virginia is working to improve roadways, but the Commonwealth has not caught up with a growing population and worsening traffic conditions. That’s why it’s important for Virginia drivers to understand how to drive defensively on rural roads.

Rules of the rural road – how to get home safely

Rural roads have sharper turns, blind intersections, and are narrower. These factors can make them harder for law enforcement to monitor.

Your best solution is prevention – avoiding accidents altogether – which means understanding six key defensive driving practices:

  1. Maintain a safe speed and distance: Rural roads may be unpaved or covered in gravel, which means less traction. This can make it difficult to brake quickly and easily.Giving yourself enough time to brake when approaching a stop or sharp turn can mean the difference between life and death. This is especially true when dealing with big trucks, which also need additional time to stop or turn.
  2. Keep your eyes on the road: Virginia is beautiful, but don’t let that beauty – or anything else—distract you from your primary mission, driving.
  3. Plan your route: In the age of GPS, drivers are becoming less aware of their travel route. Reviewing the map and directions before you go will help you get to your destination more safely and avoid getting distracted by your GPS.
  4. Don’t play chicken with a tractor: Agricultural vehicles such as tractors or combines are common in Virginia. Like big trucks, they move slower, take up more space, and require more time to turn. If you encounter one, remember to give it the right-of-way, and reduce your speed. After all, if you’re in a collision with a farm vehicle, you’ll likely be the one who loses.
  5. Watch out for deer, horses, and other animals, as well as pedestrians and cyclists: Rural roads have no shortage of deer and other animals, year-round. Virginia’s rural roads are also popular with cyclists and joggers. Others’ desire for exercise shouldn’t put them at risk for an accident.  So, keep your eyes open for moving bodies – animals, pedestrians, and bikers on the side of the road at all times. Be ready to stop or move over as needed at all times.
  6. Obey the law: This may seem obvious, but rural roads often have a reduced police presence. That means that many drivers are more likely to engage in reckless behavior, such as drinking alcohol while driving, or excessively speeding. While you can’t control other drivers’ actions, you can control your own. Do your best to be safe, and let dangerous drivers go around you. Have your passenger or yourself report dangerous driving to the police as soon as possible. You could save other lives.

Helping you get justice after you’re in a wreck

Helping keep Virginia drivers safe is one of our missions at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys.  But when accidents happen, we consider it a calling to fight for justice for those hurt through no fault of their own. Our expert team of Virginia car accident attorneys has a deep understanding of Virginia’s rural and trafficked roads, and we have seen firsthand how poor road conditions – and others’ poor choices – can affect responsible drivers.

If you or a loved one are involved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, whether it was someone else texting or drinking while driving, or speeding down a rural road, we will aggressively advocate for the maximum compensation for any injuries you suffered. We offer free consultations and do not get paid until we win your case. Give us a call today at (804) 413-6777.

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
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    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
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    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.