Driving the Road Less Traveled: Maintain Safety on Rural Roads

smvThere’s a certain allure to the road less traveled. Heavy, saturated traffic gives way to an open road meant just for you. The humdrum path of the interstate is traded in for an unexpected curve or rolling hill. Or maybe it just feels familiar, part of a routine.

But often there’s another characteristic of a rural road: farm machinery donning an orange triangle, marking it as a slow-moving vehicle (SMV). It’s a symbol most of us recognize but don’t always expect to encounter while on a rural road – until it’s too late.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 15,000 collisions involving farm vehicles occur on U.S. roadways each year. And while only 19 percent of Americans live in rural areas, 55 percent of highway deaths occur on roads that are considered rural.1

You are in control when you get behind the wheel, so consider these proactive tips to ensure your safety and the safety of others when you’re traveling on rural roads.

Slow down for slow-moving vehicles

You never know when a hill, sharp turn or dusty gravel road will impair your vision and bring you into a close encounter with another vehicle, so it’s important not to rush.2 And if you see the SMV triangle from a distance, slow down immediately. These vehicles are designed to travel at speeds of 25 mph or less. If a car is moving at 55 mph and a tractor at 15 mph, it only takes five seconds to close a gap the length of a football field. So, be alert for slow-moving farm equipment.

Driving with caution is key to maintaining safety on the road, which is why Chevrolet has developed innovative safety technologies for its vehicles. The available Forward Collision Alert and Front Automatic Braking systems in select Chevy vehicles use camera technology and available radar to alert you to slowing vehicles in your path, and even apply the brakes to help avoid a collision.

Defensive driving done right

Whether you’re on a gravel road or a two-lane highway winding through the countryside, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and “play defense.” Double-check intersections – especially when uncontrolled or on a gravel road, as some might not take the time to acknowledge your vehicle. Chevrolet’s available Lane Keep Assist uses a camera-based system to warn you when you’re unintentionally drifting from your lane.

There certainly is an allure to the road less traveled. But as a driver, that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. In fact, you should be even more conscientious of slow-moving vehicles and driving conditions that can leave you and other motorists vulnerable to an accident.

Are you in the market for a new vehicle with some of the most innovative and proactive safety features available? Eligible Virginia Farm Bureau members receive a $500 incentive toward the purchase or lease of most new Chevrolet®, Buick® and GMC® cars, trucks, crossovers, vans and SUVs. The incentive can be stacked with most other available offers, including GM Business Choice, Owner Loyalty and current in-market incentives (excludes military, employee, dealership employee, supplier pricing discounts, and some other offers. Take delivery by 5/31/17).

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  1. S. Department of Transportation
  2. Off the Job Safety. Growing Safely – Rural Road Safety. July 31, 2014.

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