Don’t You Just Hate It…
We all have them, those pet peeves that drive us crazy. What drives me crazy is the lack of common courtesy for other drivers on gravel roads. Not only is the way most people drive on gravel a safety issue, it can also be a costly one in terms of repairs.
I enjoy driving gravel to and from work. I have the chance to prioritize my daily activities on the way to work and I have the opportunity to unwind and leave work at work before I get home.
I grew up driving on gravel roads. From the time I was 10 years old, I was driving tractors from one field to the next. Granted the field driveways were at most a mile apart, but it didn’t change the fact that there are just some unwritten rules for driving on gravel in a tractor or car/truck:
1. Just because the speed limit is 55 mph, doesn’t mean you have to go 55 mph. You need to drive for the road and gravel can sometimes have a mind of its own so you need to be ready for anything.
2. When approaching a hill, make sure you are the right side of the road and slowdown. You never know what is coming up the other side and if the vehicle is on it’s own side, the middle or your side.
3. Anytime you are meeting another vehicle on a gravel road, get on the right side of the road and slowdown. The smaller rock on a gravel road can and will be thrown at your windshield and could end up costing you a new windshield.
4. Tractors and farm equipment in general should stay off highways as much as possible. I realize with the size of farms today many times highway is a must. So if you are driving a highway or a gravel road, know what is coming up behind you. This means looking in the mirrors or in older tractors you may have to stand up and look behind you. It needs to be done every couple of minutes until your destination is reached.
If someone does come up behind you, get as far to the right as you can even if your right wheels are on the edge of the ditch (this applies to highway or gravel). This allows the car behind you to pass safely and quickly.
Using common sense and common courtesy when driving on gravel and following these simple unwritten rules actually prevent accidents and save money. A person doesn’t lose control and go into the ditch. Rocks don’t get thrown at your window causing it to crack and be replaced.
As I stated in the beginning, I drive a lot of gravel year round and I would say one out of ten drivers I meet follow the unwritten rules I have listed and these are “old schooled” drivers that learned these rules young and have passed them on.
As an EMT, I have been to many accidents in the county that could have been prevented had the driver slowed down and used common sense when driving gravel. I also realize that farming today is a lot different than 40 years ago. Then the equipment was smaller and fields were closer together, but, just because the equipment you are driving today is larger, you still need to pullover to allow other vehicles to pass.
Everyone has the right to feel a sense of safety when driving. Many will drive gravel roads to seek out old farm places they lived or go to lakes or simply enjoy the drive in the country. Following the unwritten rules of the road, passing them on to our children and using common courtesy for our fellow drivers will allow everyone to have a safe, uneventful trip.