Some people associate off-road driving (whether on dirt bikes, ATVs, or SUVs) with possible environmental degradation and oppressive engine noise; for others, it’s a popular way to explore and enjoy the outdoors.
Off-road driving can be dangerous, although it depends on many factors, including the environment, the equipment you use, and the way you drive.
You don’t have to be an adventurer-daredevil to put yourself in harm’s way while off-roading, whether on a vehicle or dirt bike. Wearing a helmet or maybe a seatbelt if you are in an off-roading SUV can lead to a false sense of security.
Many off-roaders know the rules and risks of off-roading, but others continue to travel without realizing or are happily unaware of the dangers of bringing their vehicles into the wild. Although accidents always happen, everyone should abide by the following rules to reduce the possibility of off-road accidents.
What 4WD Is And How Traction Works Off-Road
Four-wheel drive is actually a bit of a misleading term. Just because you have 4WD wheels does not mean that all four wheels will roll and have grip when you get stuck. Four-wheel drive means that power is divided between the front and rear differentials; This is where things get tricky.
When you drive around a corner, the outer wheel of the vehicle will travel further than the inner wheel. The standard differential allows the wheels to move independently of each other, sending power to the path of least resistance. This is a good thing on the sidewalk, but when the axle is stuck in the mud, or when climbing a rugged hill, the grip of one tire is slightly less than the grip of the other tire, which means that the power will flow to the one with the least grip. This is not ideal. Basically, when you need it most, the 4WD as we know it can only power two wheels; one in front and one in the back.
Moving all four wheels at once will require the vehicle to be equipped with front and rear locking differentials, which can only be used on a few new cars unless the aftermarket installs are at a high cost. However, these days, off-road traction control systems can simulate a locked differential by sending power to the other side and braking the spinning tire, which probably has more grip.
Rules You Shoudn’t Forget When driving Offroad
Always keep your legs and arms on the inside, even if it seems safe to touch rocks or trees so close in a narrow passageway — your truck or SUV can slip and fall quickly, and you may pinch your limbs. If the vehicle starts to roll over, you may instinctively want to reach out to stop it- just don’t do it! Always fasten your seat belt and fasten everything inside and outside the car because it will undoubtedly bounce on the track. Since there is always the possibility of overturning, secure everything as pets or loose objects can cause severe injury to vehicle occupants in a crash or a rollover.
Off-road driving needs concentration and serious focus, so take a break, rest, or let someone else drive for a while after a few hours. Don’t rush the experience. If you get stuck and can’t instantly extricate yourself, do not be embarrassed and stubbornly refuse to seek help from a local or another trail user who knows the path.
Alternatively, if you see someone who needs help, reach out to them as much as possible. During extraction, clevises, straps with caution, including respect and treat winches. These recovery devices are generally subject to extreme tension during use. They can break or come loose, so you should stand up and never step over tight ropes, chains, or cables. Stepping on it can break something and cause fatal injuries.
Know Your Vehicle
Does your vehicle have a locking differential? Is the front stabilizer bar disconnected? Do you have 4L and 4H, ATRAC, ramp descent or crawl control? Do the front hubs need to be lock before using 4WD? Do you have AWD or 4WD? Do you know how to simply turn off the traction control or activate the transfer case? Did you always bring a spare tire and tools to replace it?
Some off-roaders will know their vehicle and its equipment, but part-timers and the inexperienced may need to relearn what their car can do and how to activate the equipment that allows the vehicle to do its thing. Off-road vehicles are usually much more powerful than the owner thinks; the weak link may actually be the driver, not your truck or wheels.
How much terrain clearance do you have? What are the departure angles and approaches? How deep can a truck travel in the water? Knowing these key indicators will prevent you from trying to do things that might cause the vehicle to center at a high altitude or stop it in a way that requires towing. Before you go, make sure that all these systems are working since it’s not unusual for someone to reach the trail only to find a leak or fault in their 4WD system because it has not been used for months.
Tell Someone, Take Someone, Pack Properly, and Think Safely
Before you leave, tell someone or your others where you are heading, who you are with, when you expect to get to your destination, and when and where you will be back. Make sure these people have your contact information and that all of your mobile phones are charged and can be charged. It may be beyond the cell range, but ETA provides a benchmark for others.
For more extreme outings, bring an equally tough 4WD buddy so that if you get stuck, damage the vehicle, or stop it, you can be hauled back or possibly taken out. BC AdventureSmart says this: “No one ever expects to get into trouble outdoors. But a turn in the weather, mistake in judgment, an unexpected injury, equipment failure, or sudden nightfall can quickly change any recreational outing into a crisis.”
This also means bringing the right gear, from a flashlight to a recovery belt, from food and water to warm clothing. Putting safety first may sound like Air Canada’s marketing slogan, but it’s a smart way to plan your off-road trips and limit the chance of accidents, and be able to get out of trouble when something goes wrong, without triggering an expensive rescue that, in turn, could put others at danger.
Before setting an off-road tire, know who owns the land. Is it private or public? If it is public, is it an active logging or mining road with big trucks that are not expecting on-coming traffic? Could some snowmobiles or ATVs be expecting a big vehicle? If the path is an active trail, make sure to obey and follow all signs, always stay on the track, and tread casually, leaving no trace of your presence.
Make way for others and make way for anything less efficient than your vehicles, such as horses, hikers, and bikers. When approaching trail users, let them know how many people are on your team or if there is anything unusual on the trail behind you. If you meet someone on the mountain, let those who climb the mountain have the right to do so, as they may need the momentum. Do not stop in the middle of a curve with no visibility and always pay attention to the other people behind you. Minimize dust or mud splashes and respect the natural environment and others who might enjoy a little off-road.
Driving The Trail
Power and speed are not really required for stern off-road driving. In 4WD, low gears and good tires usually allow you to get over obstacles. In many cases, the average track speed does not exceed 5 km/h. When descending or climbing hills, always go straight up or down. Before you go up the mountain and cross the ridge, know about the situation on the other side. Increase the power before approaching the top and crossing the ridge. Step on the accelerator with one foot and the brake with one foot to control you more accurately.
When going downhill and the brakes, always use the lowest gear to fine-tune your speed or maybe just activate the hill descent key. Only climb hills you feel confident and comfortable about. If you don’t make it to the top and start to slip and fall halfway, always make sure to stop, keep your wheels straight, and then slowly return directly to the horizontal position. Here, Neutral can be your friend and let gravity do the job that enables you to go down.
When crawling over rocks, use a low-range 4WD and low gear to let the vehicle inch over obstacles such as logs or rocks, using 2 feet if necessary —use two feet (1 foot on the gas and the other one on the brake) slowly. Knowing that a vehicle with 10-inch ground clearance will not cross a 12-inch rock, put your tires on the rock as you pass. If you hear a scratch, don’t panic. If your vehicle has skid plates and rock rails, they will protect the landing gear. . Decreasing tire pressure from 3 to 5 PSI can increase traction and prevent tire blowouts.
Do Not Be Afraid To Turn Around
Some people think the mark of an actual off-road vehicle is one with body damage or “battle scars.” I believe this is a sign of a village idiot who cannot drive.
Vehicle damage is one of the principal reasons people tell me they don’t want to drive the vehicle off the road, but if you have a little common sense and take your time, it can be avoided.
It’s normal to feel nervous when riding on the technical section of the off-road trail, but if you feel uncomfortable, please don’t do it and turn around. Most people run out of skills long before their vehicle capacity runs out, and the best four-wheelers know where they are on balance.
In addition, do not forget that as the driver of said off-road vehicle, you are within your power to quickly employ anyone and everyone in the car to be a 2nd or 3rd set of eyes. So if you’re worried about hitting your bumper on a tree — get a second look.
Likewise, if you’re concerned about running out of ground clearance, have someone watching, ready to tell you to stop before you cause damage. Four-wheel drivers call this ‘spotting,’ and the central rule is to provide direct, concise information, and if you are not sure what was said: ask again; you can’t actually hurt the vehicle if it’s not moving.
Suppose you obeyed and followed the safety precautions in off-roading but still got injured in a single-vehicle off-road accident. In this case, you may be designated to compensation for your injuries and damages.
Suppose the accident was caused by rough terrain. The property owner (private owner or locality) is accountable for providing a safe environment. You might be able to seek justice by suing the responsible parties in this case.