Heading out on the trail for the first time with your off-road truck or Jeep is an exciting moment. You have modified your truck with the right tires, steel bumpers, and other essential equipment and packed essential emergency gear, so you are ready to go.
Hey, slow down a minute! Before driving off with your group, make sure you understand basic trail safety etiquette so everyone has a great time without any accidents to ruin the fun. Using these safety measures, you can prevent an unnecessary crash while staying respectful to everyone sharing the trails with you.
Know Who Has the Right of Way
Chances are, your group will not be the only ones out there riding popular trails. Some trails can even be used by more than just trucks. It's important to know right of way in different situations and yield when this is encountered.
If you come across motorbikes, go wide to pass and slow down to avoid dusting them and putting yourself in a ditch. Then the only way out is being pulled out by a winch on a front truck bumper. When you encounter a person with a horse, pull over if possible and turn off your engine. Ask the rider the best way to pass each other.
If you are on a hill and come across another truck, the one going uphill generally has the right of way; however, challenging situations should be handled in the way that keeps everyone the safest. The driver who can most easily pull over, stop, or go back the way they came to allow the other driver to pass should do so.
Signal Your Presence to Other Drivers
When coming across other drivers who are not a part of your group, it's customary to signal to other drivers with your hand, showing them how many off-roaders are behind you. Hold up your fingers so they know how many trucks they must wait for and to ensure your whole group stays together.
Keep Your Distance
Even if you're following another off-roading truck as part of a group trail ride, stay back far enough that you won't interfere as they negotiate obstacles. This is especially important when climbing hills or going over other obstacles that could cause a truck to slide or roll over.
You do not want to cause an accident or to put someone in a ditch, even if they do have a good front truck bumper with a winch to get themselves out. Leave plenty of room so your truck is not affected should the one in front of you lose traction or have some other problem.
Watch The Ones Behind You
When traveling in a group, each driver has the responsibility to keep tabs on the one behind them. Watch in your rear-view mirror for the truck following you. If you do not see them, slow down to let them catch up, especially before making a turn that could cause your follower to get lost.
If you still don't see them, it is possible they had some kind of trouble. Radio others in the group so everyone stops, then go and locate your other driver.
Be Mindful of Where You Stop
Before you stop your off-roader on any trail, make sure you are in a safe spot. Always pull off the trail if you can and never stop on a curve or an incline. Proceed around the bend where all drivers can see each other or finish your ascent or descent, then find a clear spot to pull over.
Never Drink and Drive
Most importantly, never ride the trails when you have been drinking. You may be traveling slowly; however, trail riding in a 4x4 requires just as much if not more coordination and decision making than driving on the road. Keep yourself and everyone else in your party safe by staying off the trails when you have been drinking.
Stay safe and get the most enjoyment when off-roading in your prized truck; practice the simple, common sense safety tips discussed above. No amount of equipment upgrades like suspension or heavy-duty steel bumpers can replace safe habits, common courtesy, and knowing what is expected of you when driving with a group!