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Rocky Roads

3 min read
While gravel roads are an unlikely sight in Singapore, it’s always better to learn to drive on one in case the need arises, especially if you’re planning to venture abroad for an adventure. Here are some tips on how to drive safely on gravel roads.

A gravel road can be loosely defined as an unpaved road covered by materials such as broken-down rocks or construction rubble, such as debris from a quarry. As a result, not all gravel roads are the same, especially when considering other factors such as weather and traffic volume. This is why driving on gravel roads can be trickier than on asphalt roads!

Go Slow

Gravel roads are known to be unpredictable, with sections that may have rougher surfaces or looser gravel. This is why driving at a slower speed is prudent, as you gain more control when navigating unexpected situations.

Wheel Deal

Standard tyres generally don’t perform well on gravel, which may lead to skidding when accelerating or turning corners. With this loss of traction, it is recommended to increase speed or come to a stop gently, and to steer clear of swerving to avoid objects – both yours and your passengers safety is more important than that of a stray pigeon! If travelling extensively on gravel roads, do consider fitting your vehicle with high-tread or wider tyres. The former not only offers more grip but is also designed to clear loose gravel, while the latter’s increased surface creates better friction. Last but not least, don’t forget to keep your tyres pumped, but not to the point of losing grip.

Keep Calm and Drive On

If your vehicle does begin to skid on a gravel road, remain calm, stop the accelerator and pull into neutral or declutch altogether. While doing so, steer in the desired direction and resume driving at a slower speed when vehicle control has been regained.

Make Space

Gravel, especially the smaller ones, tend to fly when driven over, so always maintain a distance between you and other vehicles to avoid getting hit by airborne debris. Remember, flying rocks and windscreens are not a good match! In addition, dust clouds may form over gravel roads, reducing visibility – this is when “vehicular distancing” comes in handy.

Exposed to the Elements

Driving on wet tarmac roads can be tricky, but driving on gravel roads in bad weather can be daunting. As gravel roads are naturally dusty, when it rains, mud forms, which makes driving a very slippery experience. It may even form mud traps that may stall your vehicle – not an ideal situation to be in if you’re not driving a 4×4!

(Not) The Road Less Travelled

Unless you’re Robert Frost ruminating on life choices, it is best not to take the road less travelled when you’re driving on gravel roads. It is advisable to follow existing tyre tracks whenever possible as they usually offer a more compact surface, providing better traction and reducing the risk of skidding.

Stay Cautious

Yes, it is important to stay cautious when driving, but it is especially crucial on gravel roads as there are no lane markings, which means it may not be clear if it is safe to overtake or if other tracks are leading into the road you’re on, for example.

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