This road scene may look safe; and it can be fairly safe as long as the conditions have been identified correctly and the driver has fully understood the implications of the hazards – the correct position, correct speed and correct gear have to be applied before driving into the hazardous area.
1. Unsealed road
An unsealed road is an unstable road surface. Even though it MAY LOOK hard and compact you still have approximately 50% less available traction than on a sealed road. Braking distance is about double that of a sealed road for instance. Makes sense then to take this into account and reduce speed.
2. Changes in road colour
Looking ahead through the road scene you can see that the road changes colour quite often. This indicates differences in the amount of available traction that you may have. For instance if the colour changes from normal to a darker shade then this could indicate that the road surface is wet. If it changes from normal to paler it could indicate that it has become dusty.
3. Adverse (negative) camber
These can be severe on unsealed roads. They are a major contributor to roll-overs. It is imperative that they are recognised well in advance, enabling a driving plan to be made: For instance, having to slow down /pull over to let oncoming vehicles pass.
4. Grass verges
These can have an adverse camber and at the same time be very soft. Again a contributor to roll-overs.
5. Pedestrians in the road
Indicates that you may be driving into an area where there may be a settlement which is not visible. Crops on the side of the road also indicate this. Be prepared for the local population not having the same amount of “road sense” as the in an urban situation. Plan on “what ifs” with respect to worse case. A child running across the road for instance.
6. Poor visibility on road side
Hides potential hazards such as livestock, children, bicycles on small tracks etc. Another reason not to drive too fast. The faster you go the longer your reaction distance is going to be. Therefore, slowdown to make sure that you cannot be surprised! Again forward planning with respect to worse case has to be applied.