Very few people would dispute the idea that off-road driving can be exhilarating. Very few people would dispute the idea that off-road driving has the potential to be very dangerous. Whether you are looking for the most difficult trails to traverse or are just trying to get to your favorite camping spot, the ability to safely drive in off-road conditions is valuable.
By taking these 8 tips, truck enthusiasts can mitigate the risks of off-road driving.
The best way to get yourself in trouble no matter what kind of driving you are about to do is to drive a defective vehicle. Especially in purpose-built off-road vehicles, the need for high levels of performance can be the difference between a fun ride and a fatal ride. Take the time before every trip to go over every part of your vehicle. It may be a good idea to look into preventative measures like a spray on a liner to prevent dings and dents that can impact your vehicle’s performance. Shop here for spay on liners.
Many truck enthusiasts have a decent level of knowledge concerning their rides. Don’t let this lull you into a false sense of security. Having a professional mechanic periodically take a look at your off-road vehicle can greatly reduce the chance of a dangerous mechanical failure while driving.
Plan Your Trip
Start any off-road experience by making a detailed plan. Determine what kind of conditions you are going to encounter. Has it rained recently? What kind of reports has been made by riders who have already been on the trail? How long will the trail take you to completely traverse? These are the kinds of questions that can guide you in your plan making process.
By looking at the potential situations that you might face you can make arrangements to meet challenges head-on. For instance, if you are going to have a multi-day trip you will need to plan for shelter and food. If you are going on a trip to a new place you will want to schedule out extra time so that you don’t have to push your limits by going too fast.
Bring Someone With You
In the off-road world, two heads are indeed always better than one. The use of what is called “a spotter” can ensure a smooth trip. A spotter’s value is found in the information that they can provide to the driver. It is not uncommon to come upon an obstacle that provides no obvious way to overcome. If your truck has at least two people when this occurs then one of you can drive and the other can get out and talk the driver through the obstacle. The extra point of view can make even the most impossible boulder or ditch a snap to get around.
The extra person also acts as a safety net in an emergency. They can go get help if there is an injury or even perform first aid. They also function as a mediator against the driver’s better judgment.
Safety begins with making good choices. While out on the trail you will need all of your wits about you to know when to go fast and when to throttle back. You will need to be focused when you in the blink of an eye you need to know whether to swerve right or left. If you are worried about how uncomfortable your seat is or how hot/cold you are you risk not being in the right frame of mind.
With this in mind, this tip is to make sure you are comfortable in your vehicle. If your seat is bothering you get a cover that helps you feel better. If you need to invest in a new A/C unit then that is what you should do. It is safer and plays an obvious role in the truck enthusiast’s level of enjoyment.
Understand Driving Etiquette
Mostly, everyone, you would encounter while driving off-road has a goal in common: have a safe, good time. To this end, it is important to know how to drive in a way that fosters safety and respect. There is no universally recognized or published list of driving etiquette but this is a good place to start.
Tailor Your Speed
As the excitement builds you will probably be tempted to push the limits of your truck as well as the limits of your driving skills. This isn’t inherently bad or dangerous, but your thrill-seeking has to take into account the conditions you are driving in.
Off-road trails and paths can often take drastic turns that can be hard to see ahead of time. If you are familiar with the trail you can tailor your speed appropriately to be able to handle hard turns, sudden inclines or drops. If you are new to the trail then it is a good idea to keep your speed moderate so that you can react in real time to the obstacles you will face.
Cell phones are distractions no matter what type of driving you are engaged in. They have no place in the off-road setting. Now days even the most remote off-road trips are liable to be interrupted by emails and texts. Because there is frequently less vehicular traffic while off-roading you might feel more comfortable looking down to check your notifications.
This is just as dangerous if not more so than committing the same action on a highway or city street. For more on the dangers of distracted driving click here.
Look It Over
The last tip for truck enthusiasts is to look over the whole trail if possible. If it is feasible, taking the time to walk the trail to look for hazards or opportunities can be worth the time investment. If this doesn’t work for you-you can utilize something like Google Earth and get a bird’s eye view at what your trip will entail.
Have a Good Ride
Following these guidelines will be a good way to get you off on the right foot as you enjoy some off-road riding. Remember to maintain control and work within the context of your skill set and over time you will see improvements that will help you discover and rediscover your love of off-road driving.