Local authorities will be told to accelerate reviews because progress has been "too slow and too patchy", they said.
Rural roads account for some 60 per cent of deaths across Britain, despite carrying only 40 per cent of traffic.
Ministers said motorists were routinely driving too fast on such roads, resulting in an "excessive" number of fatal collisions.
The proposal to reduce speed limits on rural roads from 60mph to 50mph was among measures published in a consultation by the Department for Transport (DfT) yesterday to cut deaths on Britain's roads by one third by 2020 to make them the world's safest. The total dropped below 3,000 for the first time in the latest figures, for 2007.
The Scottish Government will shortly publish its own strategy, with separate casualty reduction targets.
The DfT report revealed areas of Scotland have among the worst records in Britain for cutting deaths and serious injuries, with the rate in the Borders falling by less than 20 per cent between 1994-98 and 2005-7.
Aberdeenshire achieved a 20-30 per cent cut, but most of the rest of Scotland was 40 per cent better.
However, the DfT admitted a uniform speed limit reduction was "inappropriate", because there were more crashes on some roads than others.
New "risk maps" of all A class roads will be published in June.
Aberdeenshire Council said it was required to complete a review of speed limits on its 3,400-mile road network by 2011, and was "fully aware of the record of collisions".
Ministers are also seeking to extend 20mph zones in residential areas that are not through routes. The Scottish Government said it had led the way on 20mph zones, with 83 per cent of schools covered and councils being encouraged to consider them for residential areas.
However, changes to the motorway speed limit were rejected. Reducing this from 70mph to 60mph would produce "significant safety benefits", but these were heavily outweighed by the economic costs of increased journey times.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists welcomed the decision not to impose blanket 50mph limits. Peter Rodger, its chief examiner, said: "No two rural roads are the same – there are places where it makes no sense to reduce the limit."
Andrew Howard, the AA's head of road safety, said: "Local authorities must use any new powers responsibly to maintain and reinforce the buy-in of the British public and drivers they are asking to modify behaviour and respect the law."
DO YOU KNOW YOUR HIGHWAY CODE?
1. What is the speed limit for cars on single carriageways, dual carriageways and motorways?
2. What is the speed limit for cars towing caravans on single carriageways, dual carriageways and motorways?
3. What is the speed limit for buses on single carriageways?
4. What does the solid white line at the side of a road indicate: no parking, no overtaking, or the edge of the carriageway?
5. How old must you be to supervise a learner driver?
6. Do trams have to obey traffic lights?
1. 60mph, 70mph, 70mph,
2. 50mph, 60mph, 60mph
4. The edge of the carriageway
5. 21 years old
6. No – tram drivers usually have their own traffic signals and may be permitted to move away when other drivers are not.