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SGI encouraging rural road safety as part of August traffic spotlight

Whether one is hitting a dirt-road for work or on your travels, SGI is encouraging people to know how to negotiate the road to avoid an issue.

This month’s traffic safety spotlight is rural road safety, which SGI says most drivers will encounter in their drives around the province, but still may be challenging if someone doesn’t drive them frequently.

On average, there are 3,000 collisions on rural roads each year, resulting in 514 injuries and 25 deaths annually, the insurer says.

Many of these crashes can be caused by different or more extreme conditions that unpaved roads are susceptible to. These can include deep and loose gravel making it more difficult to steer around curves, dust on dry roads creating visibility issues and wet ones providing less traction.

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Oftentimes because of how far away from a hospital or medical centre these areas are, STARS Air Ambulance is who helps on the scene. Darcy McKay, STARS critical care flight paramedic and director, provincial operations says they’ve seen the first hand consequences of unsafe driving on these roads, and it only takes seconds to lose control.

SGI says caution is key when driving on these roads. That means slowing down to deal with new conditions and staying back at least six seconds following distance, as it takes longer to stop on these roads and more distance means less stone chips.

Drivers are also encouraged to only pass when absolutely necessary and only when it is safe, which means not on a hill, a curve, at intersections or when visibility is limited. 

Finally, when driving on gravel, drive in the tire tracks already on the road when possible, never drive impaired and always be paying attention, as someone’s more likely to encounter railway crossings, crossroads, t-intersections, farm entrances, wildlife, livestock, and farm vehicles on these roads, all of which all require extra attention. 

Penny McCune, Chief Operating Officer of the Auto Fund, adds people need to respect the roads at all times, taking speed limits seriously and remembering that they’re maximum speeds for driving safely under ideal conditions.

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