The Dos and Don'ts of Off-Roading Etiquette
Heading off-roading is an exhilarating experience, where it's nothing but you, the wilderness... and everyone else who's also looking for an escape. Beyond the best upgrades and spots to test your off-forwarding prowess, you also need to know the off-roading etiquette to practice good sportsmanship off the trails.
Off-Roading Etiquette: Do's
Keep the peace and follow these ride-or-die Dos for your next adventure.
1) Follow the Rules
Off-roading may feel like you're breaking all the rules, but there are still plenty of non-negotiables to follow to stay safe. Follow any posted rules to keep yourself and others safe, as well as avoiding damage to sensitive habitats and wildlife.
2) Ask Permission
Always get permission before entering private property and respect any requests or restrictions in place. In an ideal world, you should get written permission in an email to have a copy should any miscommunication arise. Otherwise, a verbal "yes" also works.
3) Give Off-Roaders Enough Room to Pass
When you see other drivers coming, give them enough room to pass unless it's unavoidable. Remember, some drivers may not be able to see you around bends and rocky terrain, so hang back and let them have the right away as needed.
4) Follow No Trace Principles
Leave No Trace is essential to reduce damage left behind from off-roading. First and foremost, dispose of your waste properly and pack away any trash, leftover food, or litter. But part of Leave No Trace also means leaving what you find as you found them. That means no moving around rocks or plants unless it's a safety issue that can't be avoided.
5) Be Considerate
If you're already following the rules and avoiding leaving behind trash, you're already exercise consideration and care. Take it up a level and use appropriate driving techniques, including maintaining a safe space and staying alert for any hazards on the trail. Keep your music and other noise to respectable levels, especially if you plan to camp.
6) Bring the Right Equipment
Bringing along necessary equipment is both smart and good etiquette. Don't get separated from your group or rely on everyone else on the trail to help you out of a jam. Bring along handhelds or a radio, a first-aid kit, plenty of water, and ensure your tow is in good working order to ensure basic safety.
7) Tell Someone Your Plans
Just like bringing the right equipment on your trip, safety and etiquette overlap when you tell someone your plans. Let a friend or family member know where you'll be and when you'll get in touch to let them know you're okay and heading home. Taking responsibility for your adventure will save yourself, emergency responders, and your loved ones time, resources, and stress.
Off-Roading Etiquette: Don'ts
Perhaps more important than knowing what to do off the trails is what not to do.
1) Get Too Adventurous
Off-roading isn't an excuse to abandon all common sense and care. Don't venture off of the established trails or approved paths. Otherwise, you could endanger yourself and other drivers and damage sensitive environments around you.
2) Drive Under the Influence
There's something about off-roading that can make people feel invincible, but it's more important than ever to stay safe when you're flying over the terrain. Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol or anything that could impair your judgment and reaction time.
3) Stop to See the Wildlife
Off-roading isn't the time to stop and mess with the wildlife. Look from afar if you want, but don't disturb the local critters by getting too close or feeding them. Otherwise, you could end up harming their natural behavior or inadvertently damaging their habitats.
4) Get Aggressive
Embrace your newfound confidence and the natural high that comes with off-roading. But avoid getting aggressive with too much reckless driving, excessive speeding, spinning out your tires, and sailing over corners. Remember that it's not just about you, but other drivers and wildlife around you.
5) Create Obstructions
You may find the most glorious views during your off-roading trek, but it's not the time to set up shop and tailgate. Keep the paths clear and avoid obstructing access points that could impede someone's ride or keep them from passing or entering.
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