iriemade Skip to Content

Advice On How To Stay Safe When Driving Offroad

Driving off-road or from a paved road onto a beaten path is a very pastime of a lot of drivers. Driving off-road lets you discover and experience places that are hidden from view if you use the regular paved road. It also challenges you as a driver because the terrain will be different from what you’re used to driving.

While driving off-road is an enjoyable pastime, it’s not the safest hobby. Here is some advice on how to stay safe when you drive off-road.

Walk The Trail

Never drive off-road a trail until you’ve scouted it on foot. You need to gauge the terrain for mud, sand, holes, and other obstacles to plan your driving technique. Also, if you can’t negotiate the mud, sand, or holes on a particular path it’s unlikely your vehicle will be able to handle it and it’s best to try other trails.

Further, you need to be able to walk back to safety in case of an emergency. You can’t always call for help. There might be no phone signal or help might be too far away and too late. You’ll have to prearrange help if you want to move your car to safety because the tow service driver won’t leave the paved road, and the guy you manage to stop on the highway might not have a tow strap.

Inspect Your Vehicle 

Another thing you have to do before you even start the trip is to inspect your vehicle. You need to do a safety check on your tires, oil, engine, windshields, seat belts. For a checklist:

  • Make sure your tires are inflated up to the recommended pressure. You don’t want to risk either tire explosion or deflation in the middle of a trail.
  • Check your oil. Make sure it doesn’t look dirty and top it off if levels are low. Consult your owner’s manual for oil change recommendations.
  • Inspect coolant levels. Check that it’s in accordance with the recommendations in your owner’s manual.
  • Inspect your windshields to make sure they’re not broken. Top off the windshield washer fluids. You want to be able to see clearly out the window at the trial. 
  • Adjust your headlights to the proper height and check to see that both your headlights and taillights are functioning properly.
  • Check that all seatbelts, restraints, and safety devices are in proper working order.

Stay On The Trail

Don’t overdo the adventure by trying to blaze your own trail. Stick to previously used paths because they’re an indication that other drivers have made it through. This will decrease the risk of damage to your vehicle. Note that just because someone made it doesn’t mean you can. They might have a better car or be a more experienced driver.

Another reason to stay on the trail is that many of the trails are maintained by volunteers and organizations so you may veer into preserved or protected land. 

Pack Survival Gear

Help yourself and bring along survival gear that’ll help you out of minor obstacles like: 

  • A hand winch (aka “come-along”)
  • A tow strap
  • A high-lift jack
  • A shovel
  • Some wood blocks 
  • A first aid kit

If it’s a long trial, include extra clothes, snacks, and a sleeping bag. 

Do Not Speed

Speed is not your friend off-road like it is on a paved road. It’s more important to drive steady. Sometimes you may need to up your speed to climb up a hill or maneuver around a hazard, but otherwise, it’s better to go steady.

You’re more likely to damage your vehicle if you speed off-road and spend tons of money on car repairs.

The Buddy System 

Ideally, you should drive off-road using the buddy system. This doesn’t mean driving with a friend in the seat next to you like a co-pilot. It means driving with a whole group of other people and other vehicles. This way you’ll have all the help you need if things go wrong. 

This is especially important if you’re driving through a desert, mountains, or on a dangerous and lesser-known trail. 

Tell A Friend

If you have to go solo, inform multiple people about your trip. Since you would have already scouted out the location as previously suggested, you’ll be able to give specific information about where you’ll be. Tell them when you’re leaving and when you’re expected to come back.

This way if you’re stuck or lost and can’t get to help, your friends will know what to tell the authorities so that help will come faster.

If you’re just starting, don’t start with difficult trails littered with obstacles because you think your vehicle can handle it. Get some off-road driving experience before you attempt dangerous trails. Off-road driving can be both an enjoyable and safe hobby if the right steps are taken in preparation for every trip. 

Pin It on Pinterest