Sheep in country roads safety campaign

A sheep farmer takes centre stage in a new campaign to raise awareness about fatalities on country roads.

THINK!, the Department of Transport’s (DfT) dedicated road safety publicity brand, launched a new Country Roads on Thursday (22 October).

The “Helpful Hazards” campaign includes a video that highlights a farmer turning potential road hazards into impossible-to-ignore warning signs.

See also: Statistics reveal deadly dangers of rural roads

The video features sheep and vehicles sprayed with helpful signs prompting drivers to slow down, anticipate hazards and brake before the bend, not on it.

It is being promoted on social media platforms, including Twitter using the hashtag #helpfulhazards

Rural road fatalities in the UK

  • 60% of all fatalities occur on country roads
  • Three people die each day on country roads
  • One-third of fatalities on country roads happen on bends
  • The problem is most acute among young drivers who cut corners and overtake on blind bends
  • The number of people killed on country roads is nearly 10 times higher than on motorways
  • In 2014, 10,091 people were killed or seriously injured on country roads

Source: Department for Transport

The campaign was launched as new figures from the DfT revealed that country roads are the deadliest, with an average of three people dying on them every day in the past year.

In total, 1,040 people were killed and 9,051 seriously injured on country roads in 2014, with 348 fatalities occurring on a bend.

In spite of this, almost a quarter of road users surveyed admit to braking too late on bends and 41% claimed to have swerved to avoid something in the road.

The problem is most acute among young drivers, with a third confessing to braking too late before a bend and more than 10% admitting to “taking the racing line” by crossing on to the opposite side of the road to take a turn faster.

Young drivers are also the most likely age group to overtake on a bend without a clear road ahead.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Our country roads and lanes are for everyone. They are for drivers, walkers, riders, cyclists and, of course, farmers.

“They are often beautiful, lined by high hedges and dry stone walls. They are part of rural life. But they also account for the majority of fatal crashes.

“Even if you think you know a road like the back of your hand, you can never be sure what’s round the corner. So let’s keep our country roads safe for everyone. Please take care, and keep your speed down.”