Heading out onto the trail is an exciting time for anyone who enjoys off-roading, an adventure with fun challenges around every turn and over every hill. Of course you love your off-road truck and have upgraded it with the right tires, bumpers, important accessories, an emergency kit, and necessary recovery equipment.
Have you considered the unwritten or less obvious rules of off-roading, the protocol that helps keep this sport safe? Consider the following “do’s and don’ts” before hitting the trails. Every off-roaders primary goal should be to keep off-roading fun and safe for everyone.
Off-Roading Do’s For Fun and Safety
----- DO Know Where You’re Going - Learn the land, know who owns it and whether there are any specific guidelines or fees to ride those trails. Learn ahead of time what you can expect at a certain site to prepare in advance. Pay attention to trail signs and always follow the rules.
----- DO Be Prepared - Bring emergency gear and first aid equipment so you’re prepared, whether your truck develops a problem or someone in your group needs some medical assistance.
----- DO Be Considerate of Others - This is a common sense point that includes various ways to be considerate on the trail. Close any gate you pass through, stay with your group, and drive slowly and carefully. Keep the language clean, especially when using your radio; leave your ego at home. Just enjoy the day with your group and help each other out.
----- DO Keep On Moving - Don't speed down trails or hold everyone up. If blocking traffic, pull over and let others pass then keep up with the end of the pack. Keep moving forward on blind curves and don’t stop on the trail - pull over when you find room. When hill climbing, know that upward-moving trucks have the right of way.
----- DO Stop and Help - When someone’s in trouble or needs assistance, pull over and help if you can. This is when trucks with winch bumpers can help a fellow driver out of a sticky situation. When it’s you that needs help, there’ll likely be someone that does the same. Pass it forward and everyone gets the help they need.
Off-Roading Don’ts to Avoid Problems
----- DON’T Dust Anyone - You hate having that new steel bumper get dusted by the truck in front of you, so be aware of it when someone is traveling behind you. Slow down to avoid kicking up dust and pebbles. Avoid spinning your wheels as that kicks up even more dirt onto truck bumpers.
----- DON’T Disturb Anything - Protect the trails you love by treating them with care and leaving no trace that you were even there. Drive lightly, avoid damaging fresh areas, and don’t leave any trash behind. Reconsider your approach to avoid rock stacking if at all possible; if it is necessary, replace the rocks when done. If you see trash left behind by others, do everyone a favor and stop to pick it up.
----- DON’T Follow Too Close - This action can leave your new streel truck bumper right in the path of any rocks or dust coming off the truck in front of you and it’s dangerous, especially when navigating obstacles. Avoid tailgating and always leave enough room between vehicles to prevent getting hit should the truck in front of you slide or roll over.
----- DON’T Drink and Drive - Driving the trails is no different than driving on the highway when it comes to alcohol consumption. Safe driving anywhere requires careful thought and precise navigation; this is even truer when crossing trails and obstacles. Drink in camp areas, not on the trails.
----- DON’T Leave Anyone Behind - When with a group, follow the old adage of ‘leave no man behind’ and make sure everyone makes it through each obstacle before the group moves on. Stay aware of who is in the group, that all vehicles are progressing together, and never leave anyone alone on the trail. Work together to find necessary help and ensure that everyone stays safe.
Most of these points are common sense good driving and courtesy for fellow trail riders. Some of them are protocols set in place by the off-roading community to protect people, trucks, and the land on which you all drive. Follow these unwritten rules of off-steel and have a safe and enjoyable time when you head out with your group!