Off-road 4-wheeling is loads of fun, but you have to be careful to do it safely to avoid hurting yourself or anyone else. There are some rules to follow when off-roading to keep things safe and fun for everyone.
Here’s a rundown to help you travel responsibly whenever you’re riding the trails in your Jeep Grand Cherokee, or similar vehicle.
- Practice safe driving on hills: Always drive straight up or down hills.
- Watch out for obstacles: When you come to an obstacle, drive over it to avoid widening the trail.
- Don’t drive through a stream: Only cross a stream when you come to a designated fording point.
- Plan your manoeuvres: Don’t try to turn around on narrow trails, instead back up until you can find a wide enough area to turn your vehicle.
- Learn the trails: If you are not familiar with the trail, make frequent stops so you can scout up ahead.
- Balance your Jeep: Make sure your load is balanced so you have optimum traction. Check your tire pressure.
- Know you Jeep well: Be aware of the lowest point on your jeep so that you can safely manoeuvre over rough terrain without damaging your vehicle.
- Keep your distance: Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
- Travel in groups: It’s safer to travel with one or more other vehicles in case you get stuck. Designate areas where you can all meet up in case you get separated.
- Let yourself be known: If you meet oncoming traffic, use your fingers to indicate how many vehicles are in your group.
- Practice safe towing: If you have to tow, use an appropriate winch and towing cable for your jeep. Let the winch do the work, always look it over afterwards.
- Keep your eyes peeled: Notice and respect all signs and barriers.
- Yield uphill: Always yield to people passing you when traveling uphill; hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders.
- Be aware of and respectful to horses and their riders: When you meet a horseback rider at the side of the trail, stop and turn off your engine. Avoid sudden activity or this may startle horses or pack animals causing them to spook and injure themselves, the rider or others on the trail.
- Be considerate: Do not unnecessarily drive your jeep around trailhead, camping areas, picnicking areas or residential areas.
- Minimize noise and dust: Keep your speed low when you’re entering a camping area.
- Leave no trace: Pick up your litter and take it home with you. If you see litter on the trail, pick it up and take it with you. If you’re shooting, pick up your spent brass.
- Stay sober: Do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
When you’re driving off-road, always take care to respect the rights of other drivers, hikers, campers, and private property owners. Leave gates as you found them. If for some reason, you need to travel across private property, ask the owner’s permission first. That way you won’t get in trouble for trespassing.