Off-roading is an exhilarating and fun activity that entails crawling over rocks, splashing through water, and hitting new heights. However, off-roading can be dangerous when trying to fit your 4x4 through tight spaces and maneuvering it around rocks and other obstacles. That is why hand signals and commands are important to use while off-roading.
A few basic rules to start with when off-roading:
1. Use a spotter – A spotter is a second set of eyes that can get out of the vehicle and direct your safely.
2. Get out and take a look yourself- There is no shame in hopping out of your vehicle to take a look at the situation yourself before making a move. Make sure you use your emergency brake, though!
3. Drive slow- Slowly accelerating and being patient is important to maneuver safely and avoid scraping your vehicle or breaking any parts.
Using hand signals with voice commands is ideal since voice commands can sometimes be hard to hear. It is also recommended that you use terms driver and passenger since left and right can be confusing for the drive and spotter.
1. Come Forward- Place your hand in the air with your palm facing towards you to wave the drive in. Pinch your thumb and index finger if you would like them to inch closer
2. Stop- A closed fist will tell your driver to stop
3. Turning- Pointing with the index finger thumb, left or right, will let the driver know to turn the wheel. Exaggerated movements mean to go full lock, subtle moves for small corrections . Verbal commans can also be used by telling the driver to steer drive or passenger side.
4. Reverse/ Backup – Open your palm towards the driver and make a pushing motion backwards. This signal accompanied with the thumb to index motion shows the driver that they need to back up a little. At other times, the driver may need to back up and re-start the obstacle again and/or re-position the vehicle for a better angle.
As for winching, there are a few hand signals you and your spotter should know to help guide you safely.
1. Winch In- A closed fist with thumbs pointed out indicate the driver to pull the winch in.
2. Winch Out- A closed first with thumbs pointed in indicate the driver to power the winch out.
3. Stop- One or two closed fists signal the driver to stop the vehicle and the winch.
You may have varying hand signals than the ones listed above and that is okay. If the driver and spotter are in agreement and use the same hand signals, you should safely be able to maneuver your vehicle through tough, off-road obstacles. If you have any questions about hand signals, reach on out to the team at Bullhide 4x4.