City drivers are familiar with the types of obstacles and distractions they may encounter on the road, everything from stop-and-go traffic to, well, gridlock.
Likewise, in the suburbs, traffic isn’t as dense, but it’s still fast-paced, compared to what you might encounter in more rural environments.
A defensive driving course can be a suitable place to go over some of the basic skills needed to navigate all three traffic types, but getting out and driving can also be a great teacher.
Summertime is ideal for people to get out and visit various parts of a region, whether it’s on a cross-country road trip or even an adventure through your own state. If you’re wondering what’s best: rental or your own vehicle while traveling – odds are you’ll need to pass through all sorts of scenery and types of road conditions before reaching your destination.
Your goal might be a downtown city adventure, but you may have to drive through plenty of countryside to get there. Likewise, if you plan to unwind at a national park, especially somewhere out in the West, you likely will have to go through several cities to get there.
Plus, while there are some great freeways in the country that allow you to get where you’re going a little faster, there are still occasions where you’ll have to get off the road and take more rural roads.
Here are some of the rural hazards you might encounter that could be unusual for people used to city driving.
- Farm equipment. You might know how to navigate big-city freeway systems, but still might be baffled by what to do when there’s a combine chugging along in front of you. Odds are it isn’t going to be on the main road long, and will turn soon enough, since they aren’t really designed for long-term driving. But even so, no one wants to be stuck behind one for too long since the speed is quite low. The smart strategy is to pass at a reasonable speed whenever it’s safe. Plus, drivers of these types of machinery are also encouraged to pull over and let cars pass if a significant line-up has formed.
- Speed zones. While an American freeway seems like its speeds are has “fast” and “faster,” rural driving requires that keep to the speed limit when possible. They will likely drop to a slower cruising speed as you approach one, and then jump back up. There is usually a lot of warning, and people ahead of you may also be knowledgeable of when to start slowing down. But the concept of sliding down from a comfy 70-75 mph pace on the freeway for hours, to a 20-25 mph pace for just a few miles.
- Farm animals. Going slow on a rural road can let you see all sorts of critters. Some may be on the side of the road, such as cattle and horses. These can be a distraction if you’re not used to seeing them. On some country roads, you also may encounter people riding horses ahead of you. Like with the farm equipment, the sensible choices are either to wait until they turn off the road, or to pass when it’s safe. In the country, you also may be more likely to see other animals in the road, like deer or elk, so caution is advised to avoid colliding and damaging your auto (which is part of the reason for slower speeds and warning signs in some areas.)
Overall, summer driving adventures can let you see all sorts of scenery, but different driving skills are required.