Safety First

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How to avoid a bad day on the trail.

• Wear your seatbelt and use child restraints. Your vehicle can unexpectedly slide, lurch or stop abruptly. Serious injuries can occur even at slow speeds.

• Keep heads, arms, and legs inside moving vehicle. Many trails are narrow. Brush, tree limbs and rock overhangs may come very close or even touch your vehicle. Enforce this rule with your children. Don’t let your dog stick its head out the window when moving.

• Stay away from mines and mine structures. Besides the fact that most are on private land, these areas are extremely dangerous. Don’t enter mine adits or shafts. They can collapse, contain poisonous gases, or have open shafts in the floor. Be especially careful with children and pets.

• Carry detailed paper topographic maps regardless of whether you have a GPS unit or laptop computer. Electronic devices can fail at any time. We recommend map atlases, like the DeLorme Gazetteer or Benchmark Road & Recreation Atlas and a good compass. Don’t rely much on MVUMs to help with navigation.   

• Travel with another vehicle whenever possible. If you must go alone, stay on easier, more traveled routes. Never travel alone on difficult trails. Make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Report to them when you return.

• Join a 4-wheel-drive club. It’s fun and you’ll learn a great deal. Pick a club with similar interests and vehicles.

• If you get lost or stuck, stay with your vehicle unless you are very close to help. Your vehicle will provide shelter and is easier to see by search parties.

• Inspect your vehicle and maintain it properly. Pay particular attention to fluids, hoses, belts, battery, brakes, steering linkage, suspension system, driveline, and anything exposed under the vehicle. Tighten anything that may be loose. Inspect your tires carefully for potential weak spots and tread wear. If you have a mechanic do the work, make sure he understands 4-wheeling.

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