You are new to off-roading, you have bought a new ATV, and you have learnt how to drive it from a local driving school or your friend. Now you are thinking of starting the ignition of your ATV and proving to your friends how cool you are!
Wait! That’s exactly what you shouldn’t do. To ensure that you have the best off-roading experience without causing any damage to you, your vehicle, your fellows, and the environment, we have formulated 10 rules that you shouldn’t forget when off-roading:
10 rules that you shouldn’t avoid before going off-roading are:
- Knowing the vehicle
- Following the trail
- Showing the right behavior
- Choosing Quality equipment
- Bringing someone along
- Adhering to Laws
- Checking the weather
- Adjusting speed
- Equipping safety gear
- Knowing approach angles
Furthermore, off-roading is an activity performed in natural landscapes. Therefore, it has an environment protection component attached to it. Whatever wrong you will do not only will affect you, but it will affect the environment and natural ecosystem.
As we move further, we need you to understand that these rules are very much followed by everyone who calls himself/herself a professional off-roader. The safety gear, the knowledge of the vehicle, and the attitude towards off-roading are pretty common. So the information we have listed below is also going to benefit you.
Section-1: Rules Regarding Vehicle and Gears:
In section-1, we have listed all the rules related to the owner’s choice regarding the vehicle, such as knowing the vehicle in detail, choosing the right equipment, and installing safety gear in the vehicle.
These rules, if not avoided, will help you make choices that not only benefit your vehicle sustenance in off-roading but also improve its performance.
Rule 1- Knowing the Vehicle:
Among all the rules that you shouldn't avoid before off-roading, knowing the vehicle always comes first. The reason behind it is the extreme nature of this motorsport and the dangers it encompasses in it. You will never know where you get stuck and what kind of help you are going to require.
So to prevent this from happening, you must be aware of the capacity and capability of your vehicle, like its engine transmission, gears, suspension, wheels, and above all, the power distribution.
All these will help you make sound judgments while trekking and increase the chances of making it safe for you and your vehicle.
Another benefit that it has is that even if you get stuck somewhere or your vehicle is in bad shape, you can accurately identify the component required in the situation and call the required kind of help for this.
Lastly, you should also be aware of your vehicle because, after all, it is your possession, and if you want to stay off-roading, you are going to use it. So keeping it sound and functional should be your priority, and knowing its components will help you in it.
Rule 2- Choosing Quality Equipment:
The next rule is somehow related to the first one, and that is Choosing Quality Equipment. In off-roading, like any other motorsport, your vehicle is considered your baby.
It is taken as your child, which requires complete care and attention in quality instruments installed in it. So you have to make sure, whatever parts you are substituting in it:
- They have to be original
- They have to meet the standards of your vehicle
- They have to be suitable for the conditions your care is going to face
These conditions are a must before you choose any part for your vehicle.
Otherwise, if you choose any regular equipment like a suspension that you have chosen because of its popularity in your local market or your mechanic is referring to making his commission, you will harm your vehicle. And it may stay with your car permanently.
Furthermore, it is often advised that you should go to find genuine parts for your vehicle. It is because genuine parts are always tested concerning the vehicle you are using, and they are standardized based on your vehicle's requirements. So your first choice is always to find genuine parts for your vehicle, even if they cost you double than others available in the market.
To make you aware of a growing problem regarding finding the genuine parts of off-roading vehicles. We have given a pie-chart showing countries with most of the duplicate and pirated spare parts available in the market.
The United States comes on top with 20% percent of all the pirated parts of off-roading vehicles available in the market.
After that comes Italy, then Switzerland, and then the UK and Spain making 5% of the total parts of the world.
Rule 3- Equipping the Safety Gear:
Last but not least of this section, you need to take safety precautions in the form of equipping you and your car with safety systems.
Like you need to install a radio-com set in your vehicle that will help you communicate with other partners during any trouble. In the same way, you should install a winch in your vehicle bumper so that if your vehicle gets immovable anywhere, you can pull it out by attaching the winch wire with another vehicle.
Additionally, you need to adopt some other precautions that include taking extra supplies of food, water, and fuel with you. In case your journey gets prolonged due to any reason, you can easily sustain the environment.
In connection to the above discussion, we would like to give you an important tip: off-roading means going beyond your comfort zone or trekking the uncharted territory.
So keep in mind that you will face several challenges, and whatever safety systems you install will streamline your journey.
Section-2: Rules Regarding Driving Technique:
In this section, we have listed rules that are related to the driving techniques of off-roading. These driving techniques include following the trail, taking care of approach angles, adjusting speed, and above all, adhering to laws and regulations which the government has set forth for off-roading.
So far, most of the drivers take care of these rules. But if you are a newbie to off-roading, you must not avoid these.
Rule 4. Following the Trail:
In this section, the first rule which you shouldn’t avoid is the importance of the trail. You need to make sure that you will follow the trail in a risk-free manner and with professional ethics.
Usually, the trails are made with intentions to keep the environment safe and to give off-roaders all the fun they want with safety.
So if you are following a trail, you need to stick with the limits and follow some basic ethics of driving. You should drive the vehicle after gauging the trail properly and opt for practical and safe driving techniques to prevent the vehicle from rolling possibly. Also, it will prevent the environmental damage that otherwise you will create while making your way.
Following the trail will yield you, particularly if you are new to off-roading because you tend to understand the paths and the obstacles that lie in them.
You tend to see other off-roaders crossing over them, and you can learn how they are crossing it and how they are making it safe. The knowledge you acquire from this will help you a lot when you are off-roading alone.
Rule 5. Knowing the Angles of Off-Roading:
After that, you have learned the importance of following the trail; the next important rule is understanding the basics of angles you apply to overcome obstacles.
These angles include:
- Approach Angle/Departure Angle
- Break-Over Angle
You are referring to approach angle, the maximum gradient of an obstacle (Stones, rocks, logs) that your vehicle requires to move from a horizontal plane. It is also called the departure angle because this angle determines how your vehicle will approach the obstacle and how it will overcome it.
The next angle is the break-over angle. Break over angle is the angle of the tires in correlation with the under the hood of the vehicle.
For example, the wheels’ approach while overcoming any obstacle will determine whether the vehicle will pass over it or not.
Suppose the driver feels that the breaking-over angle is optimum and that enough ground clearance is available, then the vehicle will pass over it easily.
Otherwise, the stone or obstacle will behave like a pivot of a sea-saw, making your car tee-tottering over it.
Rule 6. Adjusting Speed:
The last rule of this section is related to speed, and it goes as the slower you move, the better it is – the golden rule of off-roading.
You need to understand that off-roading requires patience and a methodological approach rather than speeding. What it means is that you need to use lower gears when trekking and descending.
That will result in off-roading being rather easy and less dangerous than if you move at a higher pace. Ideally, the speed of an off-road vehicle ranges from 0-5mph, not more than that when it is moving on a trail.
Also, when you move slower over obstacles, the vehicle faces fewer impacts and low wear tear – especially the tires and suspension, and it can sustain a lot more.
Other than that, slow movement will result in more fun as you get the true feel of nature and the beauty of the trail. And that you will not find it if you move fast. So, keep in mind slow and systematic approach should be your priority while off-roading.
We have listed a table with standard speed limits for off-roading vehicles on different trials to help you adjust your speed for better performance.
Speed Limit in mph
Proposed Areas or trails
At trail junctions, parks
Roads approved for off-roading, ploughed roads, or bridges
For trails privately owned or leased
On trial connectors and on every trail without speed signboard
Rule 7. Adhering to Laws and Regulations:
The first rule in this section is that you must pay special attention to the laws and regulations while off-roading.
Every state administration has set up its standards of off-road vehicles based on the terrains of that particular area. The purpose of these vehicle regulations is to ensure the safety of the driver and the vehicle. Therefore, you need to keep them in accordance while preparing your vehicle.
Other than that, some laws are formulated to protect the environment and maintain bio eco-system working that may get disturbed by irregular off-roading.
This implies that you have to be aware of all the no-go areas of a particular track and the spots which require careful driving. Through this, you can enjoy off-roading and can remain safe from a possible fine.
Section-3: Other Necessary Rules:
In the third section, we have listed those rules that can be the add-ons of off-roading. But these rules will surely help you in making your journey safe and adventurous.
For instance, rules like you should never off-road alone and bring someone else with you will help you when your car gets stuck in the middle.
Likewise, when you operate your vehicle with a composed mind – showing the right behavior, surely you will make good decisions. So, you need to check all of these and take them into account before you set your course.
Rule 8. Bringing a Partner:
The next rule that you shouldn’t avoid is to never off-road alone. Yes, off-roading alone can create several problems for you, and it can be dangerous as well.
There are many logical reasons to support this argument like when you are off-roading, your partner can act as a spotter to help you sail easily through any obstacle.
In the same way, you can consult your partner at any critical moment and take the best option available, like asking them about the speed, gradient, approach angle, or any other component of off-roading. That will also result in better performance of yours during your journey.
Another major benefit of bringing someone along with you is that it will increase the probability of sticking to laws and regulations.
A survey conducted on drivers showed that drivers with a partner followed the rules more than those alone. This will keep you safe from the possible fine you will get after making stupid decisions.
Lastly, during off-roading, you never know when your vehicle can get in trouble and when you need an extra hand for help.
So, if you have a buddy sitting right next to you and who is ready to help you anytime, you will be in a much better position to handle the challenge.
Rule 9. Showing the Right Behaviour:
Off-roading is a sport, and like any other sport, it requires momentum, spirit, and etiquettes that every participant needs to show. So, this rule is related to participants’ behavior that every off-roader must show the right attitude and behavior towards off-roading and the things related to it.
Now the question comes: what is the right behavior of off-roading?
The answer to this question is simple, and that is that any of your activities must not harm any vehicle (including yours), any off-roader (including you), and any section of the environment in any way.
If you create any inconvenience, it will not only affect your safety but also bring several other consequences for this motorsport.
There are already debates on-going on banning off-roading due to the environmental and human harm it is having. So, your behavior will further exacerbate this process, leading to more restrictions on this sport.
Also, showing the right behavior leads to more enjoyment and adventure as you get the gist of off-roading in its purest form.
Usually, off-roaders tend to be aggressive and vying for speed. In this way, they overlook several factors and miss opportunities that can only be yielded if they opt for calm and composed behavior.
Rule 10. Checking the Weather:
The last rule that you shouldn’t avoid is to check the weather before going off-roading. Usually, the off-roading trails are located deep into the wild, and the weather is unpredictable.
For instance, many incidents are reported in which the off-roaders get stuck in the middle of their journey due to heavy rainfall or thunderstorms, and they have to be rescued from there.
Likewise, excessive heat and temperature lead to several engine problems for many off-roaders. Therefore, to avoid such scenarios, you must update yourself with the weather conditions of the trail you have selected.
Although off-road vehicles are equipped with weather-resistant systems like snorkel and water-proofing, handling bad weather can become challenging. In this case, you should be aware of the bad weather handling techniques like how to drive in the rain without getting slipped in the middle.
Off-roading can be a lot of fun if you do it responsibly and follow the rules. Besides the above mentioned essential rules, also try to abide by the following rules for safe and successful off-road experience:
- Give vehicles going uphill the right of way
- Never stop or park on the trail
- Let others know how many vehicles are behind you
- Be mindful of other off-roaders
- Closely observe the vehicle ahead of you
This is Surya. I am an experienced off-roader. I have been off-roading for many years across several terrains. I am passionate about 4×4 driving and want to share my knowledge and experience with others.
My goal is to provide you with the most comprehensive and unbiased information about off-roading.
I curated this article through my personal experience and expertise, and I hope it helps you with what you are looking for.