Few things can ruin a fun day of off-roading like some fool tearing through without regard for anyone else. There aren’t too many things that can get your blood pressure up when you’re off-road, but catching a cab full of dust after someone blows past you kicking up rooster tails, or being run off the trail because someone doesn’t know how to yield. In other words, the only way to make sure everyone has a good time on the trail and more importantly, stays safe is to follow some basic rules of trail etiquette. These should all be common sense, but are all still worth mentioning so you and everyone else have as much fun as possible without ruining anyone else’s day.
1. No Tailgating
Just like on the highway, don’t tailgate. Give the guy or girl in front of you a little extra room in case he or she has an issue or has to stop quickly. Mud, water, and loose trail material
increase braking distance and time, which means you’re far likelier to run into someone if you’re riding too close on the trail than in normal circumstances. Looking past safety, nobody likes having someone following closely, especially when he or she’s trying to relax and enjoy the trail. Back off a little and give everyone their space.
2. Trucks Coming Up Have Right of Way
When passing another truck on the trail, the vehicle coming up the incline always has right of way. This is done so that any forward momentum the truck has won’t be lost trying to avoid anyone coming down the hill. It’s far easier for someone coming down a hill to stop and get going again than it is for someone coming up to stop and start moving once more.
If you’re at the top of a hill and someone is coming up, back up cautiously and pull over so the upcoming vehicle has enough run-off room to safely crest the hill without worrying about you.
3. No Speeding
This is probably the most difficult one to follow, but it’s important for safety and for politeness towards other drivers, too. Instead of seeing how fast you can go, think of the trail and other drivers and slow down a little. Take a little extra time and enjoy the trail, since that’s one of the reasons you’re out there, right? Keeping speed down can help with dusting other drivers with your dust trail as well as keeping you safe if an animal or other driver were to come out unexpectedly. The old drivers safety training videos always said “speed kills” and while that’s true, it’s also a great way to make enemies on the trail.
4. Keep Other Vehicles in Sight
If you’re off-roading with a few friends make sure you always see where they are. It’s everyone’s responsibility to know where the other people you’re with are at all times. This keeps you from running into one another and helps you to know if someone broke down.
If you’re on your own but have other off-roaders around you, keep an eye on them too and make sure the ones closest to you never leave your sight if you can help it.
5. Leave the Trail Like You Left It
This is possibly the most important tip for off-road etiquette you can follow. While you’re driving through the woods or on the trail, remember that you’re in nature, and that you should leave nature like you found it
. That means don’t leave any garbage behind, clean up after yourself, and if you have to stack rocks or wood to get over an obstacle, you put it all back the way you found it. Leave nature as it is and everyone can enjoy the trail like they’re the first ones there.