What You Need to Know Before Driving Off-Road

Nothing epitomizes the all-American experience more than an adventurous, open road drive. However, even a pleasant day in the country can turn sour when you’re faced with an unforeseen circumstance and then must make a split-second decision about which way to go. If you’re planning your next off-road excursion, this post will offer some great insight on what to expect and what it takes to be prepared for any eventuality.

Driving off-road is one of those things where your risk of injury goes up exponentially when you don’t plan. You could end up in a ditch, stuck in the mud, or come across a dangerous obstacle that could easily ruin your day. You must take measures to ensure your situation will turn out okay before you ever get behind the wheel, and this post provides a few tips for doing just that.

To be prepared for whatever occurs on your off-road drive, it is very important to know what can go wrong. Here are four ways that you can make sure everything goes to plan:

1. Read Up on Vehicles and Wear Appropriate Safety Gear 

When it comes to driving off-road, you need to be particularly aware of potential hazards like rocks and deep sand. Off-road vehicles handle much better than cars, but that doesn’t mean they can take more abuse. Although many vehicles have safety features and off-road truck upgrades, you should know how to operate them. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for safe driving and if you must use your brakes, do not panic. Slowing down will help prevent a crash from occurring.

You should also be aware of common off-road hazards like windy roads, steep inclines, or soft sand. It is always wise to wear proper gear for driving off-road such as steel-toed boots or tough hiking shoes and clothes that can get dirty or torn.

2. Know What Will Happen If You Get Stuck 

There are a few common ways to get stuck on an off-road trip, and unless your vehicle has been modified, the chances of this remain relatively high. You must know these typical scenarios and practice getting out of them in your vehicle before going off-road. 

They are:

  • You Go Off the Road or Get Stuck in a Ditch 

Usually, this happens when you are trying to avoid a real obstacle and end up going around instead of through it. This common mistake can happen to anyone, but you must know how to get out of it safely and effectively. 

The best way out of this situation is to stop and think about what needs to be done. If there is oncoming traffic, make sure it has passed before proceeding. If you have passengers with you, make sure they understand what you are doing and why. Once things are clear, slowly drive backward until your vehicle is on safe ground again.

  • You Hit a Pothole or Rock

Most off-road vehicles are designed to absorb some of the force from hitting obstacles, but even the strongest vehicle can break down and go flying into a ditch if sufficient momentum is put into it.

The best way to avoid this is to know where all potential hazards are in advance and make sure you have your vehicle in good running condition before heading out on the road.

You should also know how to safely get out of any situation that could happen while off-road 

3. Know How You Will Get Back on Track If You Should Get Stuck

If you get stuck during an off-road trek, you need a plan to get out of it. No matter what kind of vehicle you are driving, there is always an option available to help get you back on track.  

The key is knowing how to get out of the situation effectively and safely and then having the right tools to pull it off.   

Here are some helpful tips: 

  • If your vehicle is just stuck in the mud, in most cases it will be best to try rocking the car back and forth while turning the wheel in the opposite direction from where it is stuck.
  • If you are stuck in a hole or rut, a vehicle extrication tool is the most effective way to get out of this situation.   There are many types of these tools, but the one that works best for most situations is called a “come-a-long.” This type of versatile tool can be used to push or pull your car from the front, rear, or sides. When using it to pull your vehicle up from a rut you should use as much force as possible without damaging the car’s engine.

4) Know How to React in an Emergency 

No matter what kind of vehicle you are driving or the off-road situation you are in, there is always a risk for something unexpected to happen. Even when you are prepared for the worst-case scenario, sometimes accidents happen, and the best way to handle them is to remain calm and be ready. To make sure your vehicle performs well under stress and can take a beating, it is good to have certain modifications like bullet-proof tires or a winch system.   

Here are some tips that can help increase your chances of getting out of trouble: 

  • If you end up getting stuck in mud or snow, try rocking back and forth while turning the wheel in the opposite direction that you are trying to move. Just like with steering out of a ditch by reversing your vehicle, rocking back and forth will give you that extra push needed to get moving again.
  • If you are on a steep incline, make sure to slow down or brake before you start to slide. If you do not apply the brakes in time, your vehicle could go into a spin and cause an even worse situation.
  • A winch can be used to pull you out of many common off-road situations – simply turn it on and let it do the work. Even though they add weight to your vehicle, they are worth the added protection they offer. If a winch is not enough, then getting an aftermarket winch system is the next step.

Whether you are going for a leisurely drive or a serious off-road trek, you need to know how to drive off-road safely and effectively. With the proper knowledge of driving practices, the history of popular off-road vehicles, and safety gear – you can be on your way to adventure. Remember to be prepared for any unexpected situation that could arise and follow all safety tips.


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