If you have been following my stories these past few weeks, this is the part we talked about regarding the machine side of getting started in the sport. This week, let’s begin the discussion with the human factor that goes into driving an off-road vehicle. Here are a few tips on how to get started for a safe, non-traumatic, first experience in the off-roading:
• Know your vehicle. Know how to operate the 4WD system, its capabilities as well as its limitations.
• Know how to hold the wheel and the correct seating position. The proper way to hold the wheel is at the ten o’clock and two o’clock positions. When seated, make sure that your wrist can rest on top of the wheel with your back touching the seatback.
• Never drive above your skill level; if you think its unsafe for you, it probably is. Don’t let your enthusiasm and excitement get the best of you; remember safety first.
• Never go out alone in just one vehicle. Just like scuba diving, there has to be a buddy system so that if one vehicle gets stuck or breaks down, the other can go out for help or at least give it a tow.
• Needless to say, have at least a tow strap and the proper towing hooks and points on both vehicles for quick tow recovery. Make sure that your towing equipment is properly rated for the job. Recovery of a stranded vehicle is an extremely hazardous activity; especially in the middle of nowhere help and hospitals are far away.
• Let people of authority know where you are headed in the area where you intend to drive. Reason being: it may be illegal to drive through some property or land.
• If your tires are slipping and you’re not moving forward, that means you have no traction and most probably, are applying too much throttle.
• When the vehicle slides to the side due to a slippery surface, apply throttle gradually and steer in the direction of the slide until the vehicle corrects itself.
• When driving down hill and the vehicle loses traction and slides, do not slam on the brakes. Apply pressure on the throttle gradually and follow the previous procedure.
• Never enter a ditch or mound with two wheels at the same time. Do it one wheel at a time; as there is less ground resistance and will make it easier to get through.
• Never make a climb up sideways. Always attack the climb squarely. If you do, you risk rolling the vehicle on its side.
Remember this is not a complete guide, this is just a starting guide. If you want to, explore getting into the sport. But do it the right way. It’s now up to you and your sense of adventure on how to get you through, safely. Happy trails.