Owning an off-road vehicle and “four-wheeling” is an exciting hobby enjoyed by many in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. Taking a vehicle off-road allows driver and passengers alike to see places they would not otherwise experience. However, traveling by vehicle in this fashion carries with it certain inherent risks since drivers may be making their maiden voyage on new terrain. A situation may quickly escalate as one moment you’re near a familiar highway, the next you’re in a remote, hostile environment. Here are some valuable rules to always follow in circumstances and situations traveling in an off-road vehicle:
*Don’t travel alone. By this not only should you not drive by yourself but you should bring along another vehicle. This ensures that transportation will be immediately available in case one vehicle becomes damaged or stuck and can’t be repaired at the location. The additional vehicle may even provide necessary power and torque to help any other vehicle rescue efforts.
*Inform loved ones and friends of your location. This rule applies in many situations and circumstances in life. Let a few people (not just one) know the destination and general location of an off-road trip and the estimated time of return. In case an emergency should arise, at least a friend or loved one will know to contact authorities after a certain period of time.
*Make a safety inspection of the vehicle. Inspect and ensure that the vehicle and all parts and accessories are operable and safe for the trip. Winches and high-lift straps must be handled carefully as straps, clevises, and other parts are under extreme tension when used. Make sure all passengers stand clear if you have to recover a vehicle.
*Pack accordingly for the trip. It’s truly wise and not overpreparing to pack the proper equipment and supplies in case of an emergency or if the excursion becomes an overnight trip because of complication(s).
*Tie everything down inside the vehicle. Traveling at even a slower rate of speed wil cause any belongings or other paraphernalia inside the vehicle to become moving projectiles upon crash or rollover.
*Always wear seatbelts. As with travel on paved roads and highways, every passenger in an off-road vehicle must wear a seatbelt at all times. Traveling in an off-road vehicle will jostle passengers on most trails. More importantly, the possibility of a rollover or crash exists at any time, especially when traveling on dirt roads in hilly areas. Colliding suddenly with a rock or tree stump may cause a driver or passengers to be ejected from the vehicle, which may cause serious injuries or death.
*Keep all hands and arms inside of the vehicle at all times. Many off-road trails run through narrow passages that may cause arms or legs hanging from a vehicle to receive lacerations or worse. Trees, cliff walls, and rocks immediately outside of a vehicle can sever arms and limbs at what may seem like insignificant rates of speed.
If the vehicle begins to tip over, do not follow your instincts and put your hand out to brace the impact as it will not stop the vehicle. It always a good idea to keep windows rolled up. It’s also important that passengers do not hold onto a roll bar if one is present on the vehicle as any rollover will cause serious injury to their hands and arms.
*Take proper precautions when stopping the vehicle. When stopping to exit the vehicle, use the emergency brake to ensure that the vehicle is incapable of rolling away, especially when on a surface that is not entirely flat, such as the slope of a hill. Better advice: Don’t park on uneven terrain.
*Don’t drive while intoxicated. Another basic common sense rule that is sadly often ignored in this circumstance. Drving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will substantially increase the likelihood of a serious accident.
It’s wise to contact an attorney experienced in litigating personal injury lawsuits involving off-road vehicles. The attorneys, past and present, of Powell Law have represented victims of all types of accidents, including those involving automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and off-road vehicles. If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury resulting from a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or truck accident, contact Powell Law at call (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay anything unless we win.