Essential Safety Tips for Driving on Rural Roads

Australia is renowned for its expansive landscapes, remote wilderness, and rural beauty. A road trip around Australia’s rural gems is sure to be full of rolling hills, scenic lands, fresh air, and a serenity that is difficult to find in urban areas. However, this scenic ride can also have potential hazards such as wildlife crossings, narrow lanes, and limited visibility. Driving on Australian country roads requires more than patience, focus, and skills you learn in a driving school. It also calls for a more profound road awareness, readiness to face potential hazards, and fast reflexes for quick response. Even the best drivers often struggle on rural road conditions so it’s no wonder new drivers are advised to be cautious on such trips. Whether you’re a seasoned driver or new to the experience, understanding the nuances of rural driving can enhance your safety and enjoyment. Here are essential safety tips to ensure your journey through the countryside is both enjoyable and safe:

Adjust Your Speed 

Speed limits on rural roads are often lower than on highways and city roads. And this difference in speed limits is there for a reason. Rural roads can sometimes have unexpected obstacles, like a sharp curve, that might come up suddenly and take you by surprise. By staying under the speed limit, you get more time to spot a potential hazard and react to it accordingly. Also, maintain a safe distance from the vehicles before you. 

Stay Alert for Wildlife 

If you’re planning a rural road trip in Australia, be prepared for wildlife on the roads. Wildlife is often found crossing the road and posing a hazard to drivers in rural areas. In Australia, one in 17 crashes on rural roads is due to a vehicle hitting an animal or crashing after swerving to avoid an animal. Wildlife such as kangaroos, wombats, emus, or deer move quickly and are unpredictable. Stray stock and domestic animals can also wander onto the road and appear suddenly. If you notice animal warning signs, slow down and keep your eyes on the road. And if you happen to see an animal, keep the speed down as they often travel in groups. If necessary, brake firmly instead of swerving to avoid losing control of your vehicle.

Prepare for Variable Terrain 

Rural roads often have sharp curves, steep hills, and sudden dips. The terrain in such areas can keep varying making driving a tough exercise. So, when driving in rural lands, drive cautiously and be ready to slow down at a moment’s notice. Also, use lower gears to maintain control on steep inclines or declines. If you’re not confident in your ability to navigate such tricky road conditions, try taking some driving lessons from a good driving school before your journey.

Mind the Weather 

Australian weather conditions can change frequently and without warning, especially in tropical or highland areas. Adverse weather conditions can make the roads slippery or obscured. Rural areas have a lot of dirt roads, which can turn into muddy tracks in the rainy season. Similarly, winters may see a lot of snow as the rural roads are not plowed or salted as frequently as urban roads. Driving in wet, snowy, foggy, or windy conditions can lead to crashes. Check the weather forecast before you embark on your trip and frequently during the drive. Also, be ready for sudden changes in the weather and adjust your driving accordingly.

Be Aware of Farm Equipment 

If you think rural roads are mostly empty, you have another think coming! Rural roads often see farm machinery like tractors traveling to and fro. These heavy vehicles move much slower than other vehicles which can slow down the traffic. They are also wider than standard lanes and require extra caution when overtaking.

Keep to the Road 

Rural roads often have dirt, gravel, and unsealed roads which are tricky to drive. They also have soft shoulders that can be treacherous. Avoid pulling over on such treacherous roads. If you need to pull over, do so only on firm ground. Another thing to remember is getting back to the pavement from the soft shoulders. Often drivers fail to control their speed during such turns and end up skidding. If you drift onto a soft shoulder, steer gently back onto the pavement to avoid skidding.

Plan for Emergencies 

Planning for emergencies is a good habit that should be followed every time you drive, irrespective of the location, road condition, weather, or other factors. However, driving on rural roads is unpredictable and tricky. These areas often lack immediate access to services which makes getting help during an emergency challenging. Be prepared for such emergencies by carrying an emergency kit including essentials. Also, add flashlights, blankets, water, and non-perishable snacks to your emergency kit.

Use a Map 

Rural areas often lack infrastructure and have issues like lack of network, improper or incomplete information, etc. Basic services like GPS and cell service can also be unreliable in rural areas. Having a physical map as a backup can prevent you from getting lost. Plan your route properly and stick to it as much as possible. Familiarize yourself with the route before you start your journey.


Driving on rural roads can be a refreshing and enjoyable experience if approached with caution and preparation. While you can learn the necessary driving skills from a good driving school like Onroad, cultivating a safety-first mindset and patient approach is also important. By following these safety tips, you can navigate the challenges of rural driving and enjoy the scenic beauty and tranquility of the countryside. Always remember that safety is paramount, and taking the time to prepare and drive carefully can make all the difference.

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