From navigating narrow lanes, to giving way for livestock, to dealing with other drivers, this is how to be a kinder driver when you leave the city behind – no matter what size your car is.

We might be stating the obvious here, but the UK is not a big country. We’re a small island nation; get away from the urban sprawl and big cities and you’ll find that, on the whole, we’re still a place made up primarily of many tiny villages and narrow roads.

And that’s part of the charm.

But our ancient village high streets and country lanes pre-date the existence of the SUV and it shows. Comfortable they may be, but these bigger vehicles weren’t made with us – or our small country – in mind when they were designed.

And if you’re not behind the wheel of a Fiat 500 or a Toyota Aygo, you might find navigating the countryside more difficult.

Country roads are harder to navigate

Yes, the daily commute on the M25 is truly a nightmare.

But country roads and lanes come with their own set of challenges that can catch you out if you’re not used to them. In fact, the AA says that there are “far more fatal collisions on country roads than on urban ones.”

Typically they are tighter, narrower and have poorer visibility than roads you’ll find in cities or built-up areas. Some lanes are basically a single track with no passing places and, trust us, you do not want to meet a tractor coming the other way.

No matter how big your car is, you’re not going to win a standoff against one. And it could be a long, long way to reverse.

Often, there will be no road markings, no streetlights and depending on the time of year you could find the road surface to be in poor condition.

With 10 plus years of austerity politics behind us, there’s not a lot of funding among local councils for road repairs.

In winter especially, you should expect to come across a plethora of potholes – some of which are so deep they like pretending to be harmless puddles, instead of moon craters capable of wrecking your tyres.


Signposts are also fewer and can be easily obscured or missed if hedgerows etc. are overgrown. It can be easy to miss your turning or get into difficulty if you don’t see a crucial instruction or warning.

And don’t forget, in the proper countryside there aren’t going to be any pavements for pedestrians either.

Hazards and things to watch out for

You’ll need to adjust your driving behaviour if you don’t take to rural roads often. Excess speed, overtaking and overconfidence will not serve you here.

While many country roads will be set to the national speed limit (60mph if you need a reminder), for these reasons we’d recommend you take winding lanes with tight corners at a much slower speed to avoid collisions (and possible punctures when you hit an unexpected pothole).

Even if you think the road is clear, when roads or lanes have blind bends in them it can be impossible to see what is up ahead.

You could be suddenly face-on with another car, a hoard of cyclists, a horse and rider, and even pedestrians out for a stroll.

As always, you need to keep in mind what your safe stopping distance. Especially on a road where there will be less available space than you may be used to and no pavements for pedestrians.

In such tight space there is much less margin for error and any lapse in judgement could be deadly for yourself, your passengers and other road users.

Flooding is another hazard you need to be wary of. Country roads can be prone to flooding during times of heavy rain and the depth of the water can be deceptive. Even more frequently, B-roads can end up underwater if there’s a river close by bursting its banks.

You shouldn’t drive through water that’s moving, or more than 4-inches deep – if you come across stretches of road that are deeply submerged, turn around and find another route.

If you do drive through a flooded stretch of road, take it very slowly and be ready to reverse out. Not only can flooding affect your brakes, if it’s more than four inches deep there’s a chance you could flood your engine – especially if you charge through at speed.

You also need to think about other risks. Wildlife, fallen trees and fragile bridges can all pose problems to unsuspecting motorists. As a Devon-based company, we can safely say we come across these on a fairly regular basis, but even we still get taken by surprise at times.

Ford Puma on country lane

Tailor your driving style 

The way you drive in the city or on the motorway will not be appropriate in the countryside, which has different risks on the road. So, you’ll need to think about your normal driving behaviours and adapt to the new environment quickly.

This won’t just help keep you safe and your car undamaged, it’s part of being a kinder driver on the road.



If you’re used to overtaking other road user’s willy nilly, think again. In the countryside, overtaking opportunities are unlikely to be as clearly marked or signposted, making it more challenging – or even dangerous to do so. 

It’s also illegal to overtake where you can’t clearly see the road ahead (eg. a winding country lane). So, allow yourself extra time where you know you’re likely to be driving below the speed limit – or stuck behind someone who is.

It can be frustrating during harvest season to get stuck behind tractors, combine harvesters and balers, but try and keep your patience. Many farmers will try and wave you ahead of them where it is safe and there’s no oncoming traffic.

In the meantime, hang back so you can keep a clearer view of the road ahead and maintain a safe distance. Bonus – you can spend the extra travel time taking in the beautiful scenery. Take it from us; nothing will cure your road rage faster.

You can also overtake a horse and rider, but only do so where it is safe and ensure you are at a very slow speed, with the radio or speaker turned all the way down as loud noises can spook horses.

No matter how long you get stuck behind them, do not rev your engine and definitely don’t honk! In fact, that’s a good rule of thumb for any encounter with livestock on the road, or you may just meet your match.

Dealing with animals and wildlife

They’re not the most obliging of road companions at times, but if you’re out in the sticks you’re going to have to get used to dealing with animals.

And its key you know how to do this safely.

Where farmers are moving herds across the road, come to a complete stop and ensure your brakes are on. Do not try and push through, but wait for the animals to finish their crossing and the farmer to wave you on.

Where unfenced or escaped farm animals block the road, drop your speed and, if necessary, pull over until the road is clear enough to get through. While locals are likely to report loose or escaped livestock on their community facebook page, you can also call 101 to report it.

Many large animals can be unpredictable and could seriously damage your car. If you must stop, engage your hazard lights to warn any drivers coming behind you. And remember – if you’re unlucky enough to hit an animal with your car, you must report this to the police.



This one can be a real bugbear among locals, so it’s your biggest opportunity to practise a bit of kindness to your fellow road users.

You might be in the bigger car, or in the newest model with the latest spec – and your opponent is a battered hatchback that’s over 20 years old.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that gives you right of way when the road gets narrow. No matter the size of your car, everyone needs to take their turn.

So where oncoming traffic cannot pass easily, be prepared to reverse where appropriate. If you’re closest to a passing place, if you have no traffic behind you, or if, frankly, you kept going when you could have stopped, it’s on you to make way for oncoming traffic.

Not only is it kind driving to take your turn letting other road users through, it’s also a good idea to be proactive rather than reactive where space is limited.

If you care about your lease car and keeping it in good condition, it doesn’t hurt to take your fair turn reversing back and letting other drivers through – and avoiding a situation where they may be forced to literally scrape past you.

A cosmetic package will take care of any scrapes, but it’s best to try and avoid picking them up in the first place. So, our advice is to take the lead and don’t assume the car/s you are facing should reverse first.

Electric driving in the countryside 

Range anxiety is real, but connectivity is improving all the time.

If you’re worried about driving in the countryside, EV charging is one thing you no longer need to be overly concerned about.

While the Greater London area still has the highest proportion of publicly available charging units in the UK, rapid charging is definitely becoming more widely available.

While you’re unlikely to find a charging unit at the local pub deep in the country, using resources like Zapmap allows you to find close by charging and plan your journey accordingly.

There are other useful apps for EV drivers that can be used alongside Zapmap.

So as long as you prepare beforehand, you need never worry about running out of charge in the middle of Dartmoor.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, while urban and rural driving come with totally different challenges, there’s no reason you can’t thrive on a countryside drive.

And, lets be honest, despite the considerations we’ve mentioned, countryside driving is a complete joy.

And the views aren’t bad either.

As long as you adjust your driving style to your environment, be mindful of different hazards and treat other road users with kindness, there’s no reason you can’t get along as smoothly in the country in an SUV like the Nissan Qashqai as you would in a supermini like the MINI hatch.

So don’t let fears of navigating our beautiful landscape hold you back when it’s time to choose your next car lease.

Thinking about your next lease car?

Chloe Allen

Chloe Allen

Our Digital Marketing Executive Chloe is in charge of our e-newsletter. There's no one better placed to inform and delight you every month, so keep your eyes peeled for her newsletter hitting an email inbox near you soon.