With the warm summer temperatures arriving it means it is time to get out on those off-road trails again. I'm so excited, I can't wait! It is also time to brush up on those unwritten rules of trail etiquette to keep myself and others safe.
Do's & Don'ts
Do: Keep Track of Your Group When off-roading in a group, it is the responsibility of every driver to keep track of the vehicle behind them via the rear view mirror.
Don’t: Tailgate - it is dangerous AND annoying. Allow the vehicle ahead of you to completely pass over the obstacle before you make an attempt.
Do: Allow vehicles going up an incline to have the right of way. On steep inclines, the loss of climbing momentum might cause a loss of traction or an engine stall. The vehicle going down should pull over as safely and quickly as possible.
Don’t: Speed on the trails. Trail riding is not a quick activity. Take your time, be aware of all obstacles and enjoy the environment around you.
Do: Be prepared. Make sure you bring the essentials, including tow straps/recovery kit, a first-aid kit, a CB radio and a spare tire among other things.
Do: Stop to help others. We all rely on each other, especially in remote areas. The off road community is one of the friendliest and most helpful groups of people there is.
Don't: Dusting -- Anytime you drive by someone on a dry dirt road at more than 10 mph, you cause a huge cloud of dust. A number of Jeeps are open air, so all this dust will not only cover the interior of the vehicle, it can also inhibit the driver’s vision or breathing. Slowing down to a crawl will prevent dusting.
Don't: Wheel spinning: Ordinarily, wheel spinning is the result of one of two things: Driver error or having the wrong equipment. Either one throws rocks or mud on other vehicles or can cause ruts in the trail, making it an unpleasant experience for the next person. If you find yourself in a situation where you are spinning excessively, try another line or turn around.
Don't: Rock stacking: This is permissible occasionally to help get out of a bad situation. But if you have to routinely stack rocks to make it over an obstacle, you may want to re-think your route or your vehicle’s capability. Rock stacking disturbs the environment and can permanently change an obstacle.
Closely observe the vehicle ahead of you. This helps you pick the proper line(s) for negotiating a rough spot.
The ability to see their rear differential is a good starting point.
Get better perspective when there are multiple obstacles by dropping farther back. This gives you more time to think through your strategy.
When stopped, pull completely off the trail and pick a spot that’s already been disturbed. Try not to park on tall, dry grass for fire safety reasons.
Leave no man behind -- just like in the military. If a vehicle in your group has a problem, the group stays until the problem is resolved. Be prepared for it every time you go out.
More Off-Roading Tips
Be patient, helpful and keep a good attitude because next time it could be you!
If you have made several attempts at an obstacle and there is a long ling of rigs waiting their turn, move aside and let them through. There is nothing wrong with being winched through an obstacle if you can’t make it through on your own after a reasonable number of attempts.
Leave your ego at home. Don’t let others pressure you into doing something you’re not comfortable doing. There is nothing wrong with taking a bypass if you or your vehicle is not up to tackling an obstacle.
Always practice good “Leave No Trace” and “Tread Lightly” ethics.
Do you have any tips when it comes to trail etiquette?
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