Drivers have been urged to do their bit in the struggle against coronavirus by steering clear of rural roads where possible whenever they need to drive. Road safety charity Brake has called on motorists to avoid the “risky” roads to reduce the chances of a crash and therefore ease the burden on the NHS.

The call comes as the government continues to step up measures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on Britons to stay at home where possible, urging home working and advising citizens to leave the house only for essential work, exercise and food shopping. But Brake has urged drivers to consider their choice of route in a bid to minimise the chances of an accident that would use up valuable NHS time and resources.

According to Brake, rural roads are “the most dangerous” in the country, accounting for more than half (58 percent) of all road deaths. In 2018, government figures showed 1,030 people were killed on rural roads - an average of three people every day. And the data also suggests drivers are more than three times more likely to be killed on rural roads compared to their urban counterparts.

Rural wet country road in Leicestershire UK

And Brake says research it carried out with the help of insurance company Direct Line shows almost seven in 10 drivers (67 percent) think it is acceptable to drive over the speed limit on rural roads, despite the regularity of speed-related accidents on such carriageways. Brake says collisions at intersections, head-on collisions and running off the road are all common types of crash on our country roads.

The charity says single-carriageway rural roads pose a particular risk as they are often narrow, with blind bends, no pavements or cycle paths and with traffic travelling at high speeds. Figures from the Department for Transport show 10 percent of cars exceeded the limit on 60 mph single-carriageway roads in 2018 - behaviour Brake branded “irresponsible and dangerous”. The organisation also sought to remind drivers that at 60 mph - the national speed limit for single-carriageway roads, the official stopping distance is 73 metres (80 yards), or around the length of three tennis courts.

Double bend warning road sign on UK country road with car approaching

Joshua Harris, the director of campaigns for Brake, said drivers should be careful when they need to leave the house and set out in the car.

“In times of national crisis we must all come together and do what we can to help keep everyone safe,” he said. “Unless absolutely essential, we urge everyone to stop driving on our risky rural roads - you are putting yourself at increased risk of being killed or injured in a road crash and of adding to the burden on our NHS. We would advise everyone to stay at home and stay safe, but if you absolutely must travel, stay well within the speed limit and be prepared for unexpected hazards at all times.”