Safety Tips for Off-Road Driving

Safety Tips for Off-Road Driving

When embarking on an extensive holiday, typically you’d make every precaution to plan ahead.
This would mean having up-to-date passports and visas, packing suitable clothes, taking out adequate travel and health insurance, having the appropriate immunisations, and being armed with a carefully thought-out itinerary.

Preparing yourself properly is what you’d call a “defensive” strategy.
Taken a step further, it’s all about risk management. The fewer nasty, unexpected surprises encountered, the more gratifying and pleasurable your holidaying experience.
The same defensive approach needs to be taken when it comes to operating 4WD vehicles, particularly for the first-time off-roader.

Before you set out on your 4WD adventure however, in order to maximise safety it’s important to bring on board a mindset firmly focussed on:

• Duty of care
• Respect for the environment.

Responsibility and Respect
There are four fundamental pillars of safe off-road driving. The first two are responsibility and respect. These should never be seen through the rear-view mirror but instead as a forward vision through the windscreen and along the road ahead.

Responsibility means having a duty of care towards:

• Your own safety,
• The safety of others on the road
• The wellbeing (care and maintenance) of your vehicle.

Responsibility further morphs easily into respect for the:

• Environment
• The respected name and institution of off-road driving.

We’d be Lost Without Knowledge
The third and fourth pillars of safe off-road driving are:

• Knowledge
• Common sense.

Knowledge empowers us to tell the difference between good decisions and bad ones. It strips out an emotional response and enables us to respond critically (and collectively) in a rational manner.
Off-road driving requires a skillset that the average driver doesn’t need to rely on. A 4WD driver needs to be able to drive defensively, given that the nature of the terrain he/she is embarking on is generally unpredictable and hazardous.

A good 4WD driver is an alert one, conscious of every aspect of the terrain being covered and of the implications of any adverse conditions he/she may encounter.

Common Sense
At all times use common sense. Unfortunately all too often we’ve heard the saying: “Common sense is not that common.”
We however clearly recognise that people make mistakes – and that no off-road trip will be error-free. There’s generally always something not going quite the way we expect.

It’s all about Risk Management
Safe off-road driving is all about risk management. This means that you should be fully in tune with:

• The level of your driving skills,
• Your vehicle’s capabilities
• The environment (weather conditions, time of year, type of terrain etc.)

10 Crucial No-No’s
Human nature being what it is – strong and fragile, fearless and vulnerable – some would argue that more often than not breakdowns on the road are less a by-product of machine or equipment failure and more due to conflicts with people and their personalities.

The first-time off-road driver in particular (although veteran drivers have personalities too!) should be cognisant of these 10 don’ts, presented here in random order:

• Don’t court danger (as in risk-seeking thrills).
• Don’t believe auto manufacturers’ advertising and marketing hype.
• Don’t show off.
• Don’t push yourself beyond your endurance. Know your limits.
• Don’t drive when you’re tired. Driver fatigue is a major cause of road deaths.
• Don’t leave your vehicle if you get lost or break down.
• Don’t see every situation as an opportunity for a selfie. 
• Don’t put yourself into situations you’re unable to deal with.
• Don’t drive alone if you’re going on a long off-road trip – unless absolutely necessary. In that event, notify someone at base as to where you are going and when you expect to arrive/return, especially if you’re venturing into a remote area.
• Don’t let peer pressure goad you into not “chickening out” or a “she’ll be right, mate” attitude if you are unsure of what you are getting yourself into. Drive responsibly.

Training is the Key
Training organisation Saferight offers a day-long course designed to provide participants with a thorough understanding of defensive driving techniques when operating a 4WD vehicle both on and off road.

The course, which is nationally recognised, is open to anyone holding a current Australian driver’s licence (Class C – Manual).

On successful completion of this course, students will be issued with a Statement of Attainment for RIIVEH305E Operate and Maintain a Four Wheel Drive Vehicle.
Based in Perth, Saferight has over 25 years’ experience in safety training.

Nuts and Bolts
Saferight’s 4WD Training course covers both theory and practice. To start with, participants are familiarised with 4WD terminology as well as with terms relating specifically to defensive driving.

The course then provides participants with hands-on experience in all aspects of driving and braking. This includes learning how to engage 4WD mode.

The curriculum further includes an in-depth instruction on the appropriate range, gear and speed to use. Here, Saferight instructors outline practical guidance with regard to negotiating various types of terrain (such as beach and river sand, mud, ice and snow), whilst enabling the driver to maintain total control of the vehicle.

Students also learn how to identify, address and report potential hazards and risks.
Vehicle management forms an intrinsic part of Saferight’s course. Students are taught how to perform pre-departure checks, conduct inspections, perform maintenance and minor repairs, become wholly familiar with the use of front wheel hubs, and undertake wheel changes.

Finally, Saferight’s course deals with the recovery of 4WD vehicles, as well as how to minimise any impact on the environment.

Have Fun but think Safety
Australia, with its wide open spaces and unparalleled scenery, is one of the world’s most sought-after 4WD destinations. We are privileged to not have to travel to the other side of the globe in order to enjoy such wide-flung riches as our country has to offer.

Off-roading is a special and much-coveted experience. However, the 4WD driver should never be blasé about the risks posed by this extreme form of driving – the management of which lies to a large extent in his/her control. So by all means have fun – but think first about safety and you’ll have a much longer road to travel on.

Posted By SafeRight

Updated : 24th April 2018 | Words : 990 | Views : 1852

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