There are a lot of rules in off-roading and at the top of that list is safety, the safety that comes from using good common sense.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to find people in highly unsafe and problematic situations when they’re out off-roading and let the excitement override their own good judgment.
Has it happened to you once or twice?
What does using common sense actually mean for those of us seeking 4-wheel adventure and wanting to push the limits a little bit?
It means remembering what you know, thinking ahead, and above all learning from your mistakes so you know better next time.
Before you go joy-riding off into the sunset, onto the beach, or down some rock-laden trail, consider the common-sense basics so your fun day is actually well – fun day!
1. Travel In A Group
The first rule of off-roading common sense is to always go out in a group or at least one other vehicle so there are people to help, another to get more help, and so on should some kind of problem arise.
The only time it’s ever okay to go off on your own is if you’re driving in known areas and others know where you’ll be so if you don’t show up in time for dinner, someone can come searching to see if you’re stuck in some mud!
2. Drive Marked Trails
You and your group should primarily stick to marked trails, though the want to explore in your great modded off-road truck where no tires have tread before may be tempting to you!
If you do go off the trail, it’s even more critical for you to observe the other four points mentioned here. Having GPS on board or a map and compass is highly recommended.
3. Be Equipped With Essential Recovery Gear
Unless you’re just sticking close to the main roads, it’s poor common sense to head off anywhere in your 4WD without having recovery and emergency gear with you.
At the top of that list is a winch and the necessary gear to use it as well as traction mats, a portable shovel, a first aid kit, extra fluids for your vehicle, a spare tire and jack, and the other essentials that you might need if you get stuck or break down somewhere.
4. Be Able to Communicate
No matter where you go or who you go with, it’s critical that you or a member of your party be able to communicate with the outside world.
Phones are great as long as you have a way to keep them charged through your vehicle.
If you go out of wireless range, you’re going to need some other means of communicating like a radio.
Breaking down or getting stuck in your off-roader outside of your range of communication can be super inconvenient at the least and deadly at its worst, depending on conditions.
5. Be Able To Survive If Necessary
Nobody ever plans on getting so stuck or lost that your survival skills and supplies will come into question; however, if it happens and yours are not up to snuff, then what?
Common sense should tell you not to go anywhere in your truck that you could end up with your life in danger without the appropriate survival gear and at least some idea of how to use it!
This is where forward planning comes in and thinking of the “what ifs” of the situation.
Consider the location, temperatures, and other aspects of the environment and what could happen if you end up lost or stuck: be ready to survive.
Got All That Common Sense Safety Stuff Down?
Basically, off-roading common sense is a combination of taking the time to plan ahead, knowing what risks are worth taking, and then knowing how to survive if you end up in a situation where you need to – and sometimes just avoiding those situations altogether by using your good common sense.
If the worst-case scenario still happens to your truck or Jeep, then you need to use your noggin to solve problems the right way, without leaving your rescue to chance or depending on someone else who isn’t there with you.
With the right gear and preparations plus some smart decision-making, you can still enjoy the excitement of off-roading without allowing lack of common sense to put you in danger.
Don’t let the joy of the ride cause your common sense to fly out the window!