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4WD Safety Tips from a Driving School Expert

4WD Safety Tips

Tip Courtesy of Nationwide

Because so many Buckmasters members own four-wheel drive vehicles, these tips from a driving school instructor could teach hunters a thing or two about 4WD safety on the main road.

"The byproduct of seeing nature off-road is that you gain respect for it," says Bruce Elfstrom, the CEO of Overland Experts, a Connecticut-based off-road driving school. "But it's not always rough and tumble (off-road) conditions."

4WD vehicles generally perform better then 2WD in bad weather conditions, such as rain, snow and ice. But don't let the added grip make you overconfident. Instead, Elfstrom offers the following guidance for safe 4WD handling:

Stay in the no-spin zone.

While traction is generally much better with 4WD, you still need to be sure to maintain it while being careful about spinning. "The grip needs to remain spread to all wheels, if possible," Elfstrom says. "To accomplish this, go soft on the throttle and give power gently. It's like walking on ice."

Maintain personal space.

Here's a disadvantage of 4WD vehicles: They weigh more than two-wheel-drive vehicles, and thus are slower to stop. Allow ample distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you. "Aggressive drivers end up in accidents long before drivers with forethought and finesse," Elfstrom says.

Give your vehicle some room.

Don't tailgate. If you can read the license plate in front of you at anything faster than 45 mph, you're too close. Keeping distance between your 4WD vehicle and the vehicles ahead enables you to avoid slamming on the brakes. With 4WD, the brakes will lock up in this situation for just a second, even if you have an anti-lock braking system, and you could lose any grip that you had. "This means your vehicle becomes a sled," Elfstrom says. "It's out of control. Instead of slamming, brake softly over a long distance before turning a corner. Always assume you're about to lose traction."

Be forward-thinking.

Focus on the vehicles ahead of you to anticipate and avoid collisions, especially if you require more time and distance to stop. "A driver has to drive for others around them," Elfstrom says. "Not everyone has the same reaction time as you, or can see as well as you, or has the same pulling power as you."

Hunters who drive four-wheel drive vehicles for everyday use, not just in the woods, will be safer if they consider all of the above.


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