Being an off-road junky for most of my life, I want to talk about the subject of safety. I know this is obvious but because of personally witnessing and seeing videos and pictures of crashes every year. Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts:
1 Don’t trust your brakes. Brakes don’t work the same on dirt as they do on pavement. The UTV on dirt is more prone to slide than stop. Hard braking will cause it to slide-a lot of times it will slide sideways. Give yourself more time to stop. Don’t ride too close behind another vehicle.
2 Don’t speed. I know the “drive like you stole it”, feeling when you get into the driver’s seat of a UTV. However, most of us are not Robby Gordon the off-road racer. The fact that these vehicles don’t stop on a dime means you need to slow down. I have personally lost friends that were not able to control their vehicles due in large part to speed.
3 Off-Roading goggles, especially for the driver, is a “must have” and a legal requirement if the UTV doesn’t have a windshield. It goes without saying that proper goggles will keep the dust and wind out of your eyes.
4 An onboard fire extinguisher is also a requirement. There are very inexpensive mounts for fire extinguishers available.
5 A first aid kit should be another item carried on board.
6 VHF radios are pretty inexpensive and a “must have”.
7 Wear a helmet. Helmets are required for under the age of 18. However those above 18 are not required to have them in most areas. It is probably a good idea for everyone to wear one though.
8 Stay On Approved trails. I really want to emphasize something that is not only for safety but for the future of this activity. STAY ON roads and approved trails. Know where you are-what road or trail you are on. If you get into a situation where you need help-you need to know where you are. I have been off-Roading most of my life. I have seen the increase in Off-Roading especially with UTVs. If we abuse the wilderness by going off approved trails, we will have strict laws for violators and we’ll lose this privilege. I have personally seen people drive thru a meadow and into a water tank that is critical for wildlife. We need to Inform others in our sport and self police when we see stuff going down. By that I mean accurate reporting of the offense. Get a plate number, know how to contact authorities where you are riding.
9 Heads Up on Flash Floods. Recent news of victims being swept away from their vehicles and having to be rescued from flood waters leads into another subject-flash floods. In 3 days this past week, July 23-25, there were many water search and rescues. The high profile ones were; the tragic news of a 4 year old girl and 16 year old girl being swept away in two separate incidents, (recovery searches are ongoing), and 4 men in two different incidents having to be rescued by helicopter. In July of 2017, ten family members were killed in a flash flood that occurred at a popular swimming hole north of Payson. A thunderstorm 8 miles upstream from them hit the canyon they were in. There was no warning until they heard the roar of the water. It was not even raining where they were. Before you go out riding, check the weather conditions of the area you are going. Be aware of your surroundings. Look for possible escape routes when crossing or traveling in washes and canyon. Do not attempt to drive across streams and rivers unless you know how deep they are. These are just a few things you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Let’s be safe and have fun out there!
By Kimiijo – 808 Social AZ