Off-Highway driving tips

The first rule of the trail is to remember that you are a visitor in someone else's home - and you want to be invited back. Tread Lightly, out of respect, and out of self-interest. Trails are being closed all around the country due to two big pressures: environmental protection and 4-wheelers who don't tread lightly. Failing to follow the basic rules of caring for the environment gives a good reason to those who would like to see every trail on public land closed to vehicular access.

It also makes good sense to leave nothing but tracks when you are visiting the natural world. Most people go out there to be a part of nature, not to damage it. A little foresight and planning reduces your impact upon these wonderful lands.

Here are some basic rules for off-highway travel:

- Avoid 'spooking' any livestock you encounter.

- Leave gates as you found them. Respect private property.

- Don't blaze a new trail; stay on established paths.

- Pack out everything you bring in. Don't litter (cigarette packs, drink cans, oil containers, etc.)

- Horse riders, hikers, and bicyclists have the right of way. Be considerate of them.

- Don't spin your tires.

- Don't play obnoxiously loud music when others are around.

- Don't run more aggressive tires than you need (lugs chew up the ground).

- Always use a tree strap when using a tree as an anchor.

- Don't leave oil spills, shredded tires, or other materials on the trail. Clean it up and pack it out.

- If you need to pile stones up to get over an obstacle, then put the stones back where you found them afterwards.

- Don't cut down trees, and try not to tear branches off while driving.

- Keep to the trail. If mud is too deep to get through, then you shouldn't be on the trail in the first place. If everyone cuts a new set of ruts, the trail starts to look like a battlefield. It's time to turn around.

- Slow down and enjoy the scenery; you're out here to have fun, not to spend your day repairing damage you wouldn't have done if you'd driven a little slower.

- Don't disturb the wildlife. Leave desert tortoises and other critters where they are; you are visiting their home, and chances are good they really don't want to leave it for yours.

Right Of Way

Horse riders always have the right of way. Avoid doing anything that might startle their animals.

Just as on the street, you should stay right if you meet oncoming traffic, if you can. If it is safer to move left instead of right, then do so; the rule of common sense applies. If there is only room for one vehicle to pass, the more maneuverable vehicle, or the more experienced driver, should give way.

When two vehicles meet on a grade and there isn't a safe place to pull over, the vehicle traveling uphill has the right of way. It is safer for the vehicle traveling downhill to back up, and it will be much easier for the downhill vehicle to get under way.

Courtesy and common sense should always prevail.

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