Safe Four-Wheeling: Spotting Principles to Live By

There’s nothing more exhilarating than pushing your custom Jeep to the limit, testing out its abilities against obstacles on the trail. It’s exciting and along with the rush of adrenaline, you get a sense of accomplishment. However, crawling over rocks and tackling various obstacles comes with a fair share of risk and experienced off-roaders will tell you never to go off-roading on your own.

If you’re planning on conquering obstacles such as those found at some popular trails in Moab, you’ll need a helping hand – and sometimes- a helping pair of eyes. No matter how good your off-roading or rock crawling skills are, you simply don’t know what all wheels on your rig are doing while you’re behind the steering wheel. This is where a spotter comes in.

A spotter’s main job is to act as a second pair of eyes (and sometimes ears) for off-roaders. They are crucial in assisting drivers clear obstacles by helping them pick the right line and letting them know where to place their tires. By using hand signals and voice commands, they communicate with drivers to help them better navigate obstacles without damaging their custom builds.

Working with a spotter goes a long way towards reducing the chances of damaging the rear bumper, scrapping the sides and bottom of the vehicle or even rolling over due to unbalancing the vehicle on an obstacle. Spotters not only help drivers avoid injury but also help them save time.

Spotting Principles to Follow for Safe Four-Wheeling

With such a huge blind spot in front of their vehicles, off-roaders have to rely on the expertise of spotters. The best spotters are also avid off-roaders who understand what it takes to scale different obstacles and what kind of driving is required to clear them. Both the spotter and driver need to trust each other if they’re to work together.

If you’re a spotter or are planning on being one, there are some spotting principles you need to abide by. The first is that you always need to ask the driver before you can spot for them. This is basic manners, you don’t just jump in front of a vehicle and start directing. Ask and come to an agreement beforehand.

The other 5 principles spotters should follow include:

Make a decision and stick to it.

Once you and the driver agree on what course to follow, stick to it. Don’t try and change the driver’s course on a whim. If something goes wrong or you see that the plan won’t work out, halt proceedings, consult with the driver and find a new line. If the driver insists on ignoring you and making last-minute changes, consider quitting and working with someone else.

Practice makes perfect.

The more you practice, the better you’ll get at spotting. To get better at the craft, find someone who can coach you and practice with a friend. You’ll also need to know the common hand signals and develop your own spotting style. Since every spotting situation is unique, you need to adapt quickly to whatever scenario you find yourself in.

Communication is key.

As mentioned earlier, the spotter and driver must be on the same page to work together. They must understand each other and be willing to listen to the other’s perspective. To be a successful spotter, you need to have the right communication skills and having lots of patience doesn’t hurt either.

Always be aware of your positioning. 

Spotting requires that you have a clear view of the vehicle relative to the obstacle. Other than staying a safe distance away from the vehicle, you also need to be well-positioned to see both sides as well as underneath the vehicle. You’ll also need to be positioned in such a way that the driver can clearly see you and the hand signals you’re giving.

It’s a huge responsibility. 

Finally, you should be aware that spotting is a huge responsibility. After all, you’ll be partly responsible for a custom vehicle, most likely one with plenty of mods that run into thousands of dollars. You don’t want to be responsible for the vehicle’s damage or injury to the driver. Although it’s mentally challenging, spotting can also be rewarding.

At Dixie 4 Wheel Drive, we appreciate all the hard work that off-roaders and drivers put in. After your off-roading adventure, don’t forget to bring your rig to our auto shop in St. George where we can give it the best service and repair job in Utah.

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