Good Driving Ethics Help Keep Trails Open For All

Aug. 21, 2013 By Tom Severin

Summer is here, and for many off-road enthusiasts that means spending even more time on the numerous trails and paths available to us. This is a good time to review the code of ethics that all conscientious drivers live by. Sometimes we become a bit complacent and forget the fundamentals that have guided drivers for years.

By closely adhering to the following principles, you show that you are a concerned driver, and you help ensure that the trails remain open to us for years to come.

First, you should always strive to have a positive impact on the environment. Put another way, leave the area in better shape than when you arrived. To do your part:

– Properly dispose of waste
– Minimize your use of fire
– Avoid spreading invasive species

Second, respect the rights of others. Realize that the trails and public lands are used by a wide range of folks, including hikers, bikers, campers, and other 4WD folks. At times you will encounter others, some of whom will be on or near the trail. Public lands are open to all; no one can lay claim to a specific portion.

During a trail run on the Rubicon last year, we ran into dirt bikers and hikers on the trail. Just remember, public lands are open to more than just off-roaders and everyone needs to be treated with respect.

Understand that your driving may seem disruptive to others. They should accept your presence, but you must also accommodate them. Minimize noise and the amount of dirt you kick up while driving by. And for heaven’s sake, don’t get into arguments or fights. If an issue seems beyond resolving, drive away. You may feel like the victim, but in reality you are the better person for taking the high road.

Finally, encourage others to live by these standards. Become a spokesperson for ethical driving. As you meet other drivers, on the trails or elsewhere, talk about what it means to be an ethical driver, and how they benefit by following these principles. Help spread this message among our members—you are welcome to forward this e-mail—and let them know that “real men” (and “real women”) follow these sound principles. Work hard to maintain all we have won to this point.

These principles aren’t new or particularly earth-shattering. Driving ethically involves following the rules, including the Golden Rule: Treat others—and the land—as you would like to be treated. If you always do the right thing, you can never go wrong.

This picture is pulled from the archives from a story about Glamis “slobs.” Pick up after yourself whenever enjoying public lands – in fact, try to leave it better than you found it!

It starts with having the proper attitude. An attitude which suggests that I am not an owner of the land, but merely a steward. I have been given permission to use this land, and I will treat it with the utmost respect. I know this privilege may be taken away at any time, so I will do all I can to keep that from happening.

If all of us took this approach, the negative comments from the environmentalists and the media would cease. And we could count on enjoying our beloved hobby for many years to come.

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Badlands Off-Road Adventure
Off-road trainer Tom Severin shares insight and tips on a variety of topics related to preparing you for that next off-road adventure. With over 40 years of off-road experience, Severin operates under his business Badlands Off-Road Adventures. He is a certified professional 4WD Trainer by the International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers Association and a Wilderness First Responder (WFR). He is a member of the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs (CA4WDC), United Four Wheel Drive Associations and the BlueRibbon Coalition. He also is a certified UFWDA and a CA4WDC 4WD instructor.

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