A “huge proportion” of drivers treat country roads “like racetracks”, according to Brake, the road safety charity.
In a survey of 1,000 drivers carried out on behalf of Brake, 33% of respondents admitted “driving too fast for safety” on country roads – and 37% said they have had a near miss while driving, walking or cycling on these roads.
Brake says that since there is less traffic on country roads, some drivers “feel a false sense of security and are prone to take risks like speeding, overtaking, and not slowing down for brows and bends”. The charity adds that, per mile travelled, country roads are the “most dangerous for all types of road user”.
The charity says that three quarters of those surveyed (76%) think country roads need to be safer for cyclists, walkers and horse-riders, and two in five say they would start cycling or cycle more (37%), or start walking or walk more (43%), if these roads were safer.
Brake is calling on Government to lower limits on rural roads to a maximum of 50mph, and to require authorities to implement lower limits “where there are particular risks”. The charity is also urging drivers to stay well under current limits because “60mph is generally far too fast for safety on these roads”.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: "We hear constantly from people in rural areas whose communities are blighted by fast traffic.
“It’s a big issue over the summer when many people want to enjoy our beautiful countryside on foot, bike or horseback, and shouldn’t have to contend with drivers treating the roads as their personal racetrack.
“Driving in this way is incredibly selfish and means people feel less able to get out and enjoy the countryside.”