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Setting off on a 4X4 off road driving adventure is exciting, exhilarating and a lot of fun. However it’s important to be sensible and careful about planning and preparing for your trip so that you and your passengers are safe.
Driving off road can mean encountering some terrains that you’re not used to driving on, the ride is often a little bumpy and it’s important to prepare for a more challenging drive. Here are 10 essential safety tips for 4X4 off road driving.
1. Ensure you have completed 4X4 driver training
Driving a 4X4 off road on a variety of different terrains is a very different experience from driving it on road. You will find it a lot more challenging so it’s important that you are experienced and confident in how to handle the vehicle before you take it off road. When you take a 4X4 off road training course you will learn essential driving skills essential for getting yourself out of trouble should you become stuck in any challenging off road terrains.
2. Plan your route carefully
Make sure you have planned your route very carefully. Planning is even more important when driving off road as it’s easier to become lost. Make sure you leave plenty of time to get to your destination as what looks like a short distance on the map may turn out to take a lot longer than you expect it to when you’re traveling over rough terrain.
3. Travel with at least one passenger
If possible travel with a second vehicle as well just in case you get into any trouble during your trip.
4. Pack the proper gear
Make sure that you’re prepared for the worst by packing all essential emergency supplies including plenty of water and a first aid kit.
5. Distribute your load evenly
It’s important to distribute the weight in your vehicle evenly or it can limit the vehicle’s clearance capabilities and make the vehicle less stable. Make sure loose items are tied down or they could fly around the vehicle and injure people when you’re going across rough terrains.
6. Let someone know where you’re going
Ensure that a friend or family member knows where it is that you’re going. Take a mobile phone with you and let them know when you have arrived at your destination, that way if anything were to happen to you you’ll be much easier to find and you’ll be found much quicker!
7. Know your vehicle’s limitations
4X4 vehicles may be a lot more solid and sturdy than your normal vehicle but they are in no way indestructible. Make sure that you are not diving to quickly down steep slopes or not pushing your vehicle into too difficult or dangerous terrains.
8. Check your vehicle before setting off
This point is absolutely vital! If you’re setting off on a long journey ensure that you have given your vehicle the once over before you set off. Check your tyre pressure and tread depth and check that your vehicle’s fluids are topped up.
9. Belt up!
Seat-belts are even more important than normal in 4X4s as the bumpy terrain can mean a very bumpy ride, passengers should always be strapped in to prevent injury.
10. Hold the wheel correctly
It’s important that you hold your steering wheel firmly and with your thumbs on the outside of the steering wheel not on the inside. If you drive over any potholes or rocks in your 4X4 it can cause the steering wheel to very suddenly turn, this can leave you with bruised or dislocated thumbs if they’re not kept on the outside of the wheel.