IT'S that time of the year again when the sun is out and the highway beckons for a refreshing spring day out.
Many shun the busy main roads and take to rural highways and lanes. But all is not as safe and tranquil as may be first thought on these idyllic byways.
There are dangers and traps out there that are quite different from the cut and thrust of urban or trunk road motoring.
Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging drivers to pay extra attention on rural road journeys this summer.
Although traffic levels are generally lighter, rural roads account for nearly 60 per cent of all road fatalities.
Of course most of the time rural motoring is a great pleasure but you have to pay close attention to what might be lurking. In short, expect the unexpected.
With visibility often restricted due to twisty winding roads, be especially aware of horses. Bear in mind that horses are flesh and blood and can easily be spooked by noisy stereos booming away and aggressive driving.
Always slow when passing and give them plenty of room.
Courteous driving is usually rewarded by a cheerful wave and thanks from the rider.
Beware of blind bends. There could be another car or a motorcycle coming towards you too fast, a group of cyclists on a ride out, sheep or cattle crossing the road, or even a wild animal.
Until you have perfect sight of what's ahead, you need to be ready to anticipate what could be there. By adjusting your speed and position accordingly, you're doing your bit to keep yourself and the other road users safe.
GEM wisely advises drivers to note the passing places on narrow lanes. If you meet a milk tanker or the like coming the other way it is best that you know where the passing place is if you have to reverse.
Another point to remember is that lanes are often not in a good state of repair and can have some pretty gruesome potholes to trap the unwary.
Always remember that verges can often be very soft or are worn away to the extent that a vehicle could ground, so it is best not to take the risk to squeeze through when passing another vehicle. Only pass in such fashion when you know your car won't sink in.