• Cyclists riding side-by-side are drivers’ top rural road annoyance, followed by speeding and dangerous overtaking
  • Almost half of drivers (47%) have dangerously swerved to avoid hitting an animal
  • Road users are 10 times more likely to be killed on a non-built up road than a motorway (2016), with the number rising by 4% in a year (1)
  • Two fifths (41%) of drivers have had an accident or near miss on a country road

There’s nothing better than driving through on rural roads, experiencing the best of the British countryside. Nothing could possibly ruin it. Apart from cyclists, fly tippers, tractors, lorries, sheep…

New research released today by reveals what gets drivers’ goat when it comes to rural roads. Unsurprisingly, two fifths (40%) of UK drivers said they suffer from road rage on rural roads, with an increased number of hazards and inconsiderate road users.

Over half (54%) of drivers admit that cyclists riding side by side along country lanes is the hazard that gets their blood boiling the most, with more than one in two (53%) also saying they are concerned about other drivers speeding dangerously down the narrow roads. And almost one in four (23%) of drivers express their anger to these inconsiderate road users by shouting, beeping their horn (34%) and throwing up the middle finger (14%).

Like James Corden in the latest ad, almost half of drivers (49%) have encountered a sheep blocking the road when driving down country lanes. And out of frustration, over 1 in 8 (13%) have admitted to shouting at an animal, with 17% of those shouting at a sheep, 10% a cow, and 14% a bird. Many drivers (47%) have swerved their car to avoid an animal which endangers all other road users.

Worryingly, almost two in three (63%) drivers did not know that rural roads are in fact the most dangerous type of road, far worse than motorways. Last year in 2016, the number of people killed on non-built up roads was over 10 times higher than on motorways (1), accounting for 51% of road deaths compared to just 5%1. Worryingly, the number of deaths on non-built up roads has increased by 4% in the last year alone1. With over two in five (41%) drivers experiencing an accident or near miss on a country lane, we must ensure more is done to inform drivers about the risks of driving on rural roads.

Top tips to drive safely on country roads:

  1. Anticipate potential hazards, rural roads are full of twists and turns so give yourself enough time to react to dangers lurking around the corner.
  2. Many rural roads have higher maximum speed limits than roads in built-up areas, but this doesn’t mean you should drive at the top end of the limit. Choose a safe speed and allow plenty of stopping distance between other cars or road users.
  3. Overtaking can be very dangerous on rural roads, so don’t ever feel pressured by cars behind to overtake. If overtaking cyclists and horse riders, do so slowly, giving plenty of space and avoid blind corners.
  4. Be aware of animals and farm vehicles as they may emerge from concealed field entrances.
  5. If you’re driving on the roads in the dark, use your full beam headlights properly and adjust your interior mirror to avoid dazzle.
  6. Rural roads can get extremely icy in the winter because of a lack of gritting. If you encounter a skid, gently steer into it.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at comments:

“It’s shocking that so many more accidents are occurring on rural roads than motorways. Many drivers are failing to anticipate the dangers on the roads ahead, and behind the narrow bends.

“Drivers must ensure they adapt their driving to the conditions, to avoid the risk of accidents. Motorists should take extra care when driving along country lanes especially as winter approaches. Speeding and driving recklessly on rural roads can result in drivers being issued with hefty fines, and accidents or car damage could result in increased car insurance premiums.”

Notes to Editors

Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive regularly. The research was conducted between 2nd October 2017 and 5th October 2017.

  1. Page 18 of the Department of Transport’s Reported road casualties in Great Britain: 2016 annual report. In 2016, 93 fatalities were recorded on motorways compared to 910 on non-built up roads.