Driving on rural roads in North Carolina can be a spectacular experience, especially during autumn. But these roads can also be challenging particularly in poor conditions such as at night and during rain and fog.
Unfortunately North Carolina has the dubious distinction of having the third most rural road fatalities in the country, behind California and Texas. The 855 rural road deaths in NC account for 62% of the 1,379 overall traffic deaths recorded statewide.
NC Ranks #3 in Rural Road Fatalities
Whether maneuvering the Great Smokey Mountain’s circuitous path to the summit, or taking in the salty air along NC 12 on the Outer Banks, traveling safely is a priority. The Tar Heel state boasts some truly amazing landmarks, but the path to get us there often finds us on two-lane rural roads. While inviting, these rural roads can often put travelers in harm’s way if they don’t follow some basic safety and travel guidelines.
We offer some insight here on what to expect while driving on rural roadways and guidance about how to arrive at your destination safely.
Expect the Unexpected on Rural Roads
Being aware of your surroundings and paying attention are keys to staying safe. Here are some routine hazards you can sometimes expect when driving along North Carolina’s rural roads.
- Sharp twists and turns, blind turns, steep hills, and dips
- Poor visibility of road signs, faded roads signs, signs hidden by trees or bushes and even knocked down
- Narrower roads which can be harder to maneuver or to pass other vehicles
- No or low shoulders and sometimes no guard rails
- Crossing wildlife and farm animals
- Slow-moving vehicles, including farm vehicle crossings (some 50,000 farmers use North Carolina’s rural roads)
- Rough pavement, potholes, and uneven surfaces
- Rocks and other debris
- Poor lighting making for harder visibility at night and in poor weather
Top 3 Causes of North Carolina Crashes
The top three causes of all traffic accidents in North Carolina in 2015 were due to speed, lane departure, and distracted driving*, according to North Carolina 2015 Traffic Crash Facts. These infractions can be particularly dangerous on rural roads because of the potential hazards above.
3 Tips For Driving on NC’s Rural Roads
Stay Alert and Watch For
- Speed limit and other roadway signs that indicate upcoming road conditions or sharp turns
- Animals, deer, and small critters can run across roads with little warning. Learn how to try to avoid hitting a deer, and if you cannot, what you should do.
- Other drivers who may be swerving or driving unsafely
Stay Prepared and Check For
- Sufficient gas and cell phone charge. You don’t want to end up stranded, especially at night or on a road with no shoulders.
- Proper tire traction
- Roadside tool kit. Always carry a spare tire, a jack and lug wrench, flashlight (and extra batteries) and roadside flares or beacons, jumper cables, duct tape, a multi-purpose tool, an escape tool, and water at the minimum. Depending on weather conditions where you live, you might also want to include something to keep warm, a rain poncho, a candle and lighter. And if you travel with your family, include items they may need – diapers and wipes if you have a baby, non-perishable food, medications, etc.
Share the Road and Prepare For
- Enough space between cars
- Anything you might suddenly happen upon in the road, such as an animal, fallen rock, limb or tree, huge pothole, or standing water
Get a FREE Case Evaluation From NC Accident Lawyers
If you sustained a car accident injury due to another driver’s negligence on any kind of road in North Carolina, contact us right away or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case. We work on a contingency basis, so you pay no attorney’s fee unless we recover for you.