Side x Side Safety Tips
Whether you've recently purchased a Yamaha side-by-side vehicle or plan to drive a friend's on your next outing, safety is a must to get back home without injury. These off-road vehicles are a lot of fun and can make hunting and farm work more efficient, and trail riding a blast. However, when driven without the proper know-how, side-by-sides can be dangerous. Situations like driving too fast and hitting an unexpected dip could launch you out of the vehicle. Knowing the fundamentals of driving a side-by-side, as well as wearing the right gear and knowing the laws will help ensure a safe and fun ride every time.
Before riding, there are several boxes to be ticked off for every rider. One of these is knowing your state or riding location's side-by-side laws. Take time to look them up to see where side-by-side riding is permitted and the speeds to go by. These rules and regulations will help keep you safe, as well as others and the surrounding environment. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before getting behind the wheel of a side-by-side.
If you're riding a side-by-side for long periods of time, you'll need the right attire to protect yourself. No matter what, a helmet must be worn. Even if you have the seat belt on, a sudden rollover or collision can still cause a major head injury. If you're off-roading or trails or elsewhere, you'll also need long pants and a long-sleeve shirt to keep airborne dirt, rocks, sticks, and other debris from striking your skin. If your helmet is not full-face style, strap on a pair of goggles too for reliable eye protection. Depending on the weather, you may also need to pack rainwear and additional layers to stay warm and dry during your ride.
Inspecting your side-by-side is important before every ride, even if you're a seasoned rider. Check the fluid levels, the tires, the wheels (especially examine axle nut and loose fasteners), installed racks, fuel, and lights. Top off any low fluids and check for debris stuck in the tires. Sure, it may feel tedious to do this every time, but it can make all the difference when you do find something amiss.
Avoid Public Roads
Simply put, side-by-sides aren't made for smooth pavement. As utility vehicles, they're built to handle rough terrain like trails, wooded areas, dirt tracks, and other locations. With their low-pressure tires, side-by-sides won't function optimally on paved roads. The pavement will wear down the tires and take away from vehicle performance. Keep your side-by-side off the main roads at all costs.
Keep Speed in Check
We all know that going fast in pretty much any vehicle is exhilarating. Due to the side-by-side's proneness to rolling, speeding in them should be left to professionals riders. When making turns or avoiding potholes, high speeds make it much more difficult to maneuver the side-by-side. Sharp or sudden turns could topple it over, harming you or your passengers in the process. At high speeds, it's near impossible to stop on a dime in a side-by-side should you see an animal, tree branch, large rock, or other obstacle in your path. If you're in a group of people who are more experienced than you, don't try to go beyond your skillset.
Keep the Beer at Home or Campsite
There is no good reason to have a drink in hand while operating any vehicle, including a side-by-side. Sure, you're on back trails and likely won't be seen by law enforcement, but there is still a very high degree of risk. Drinking under the influence impairs reaction time and judgement, which could lead to an unfortunate crash. Plus, this could also involve the police, which is something that could definitely have been avoided. Wait until you're home, at your campsite, or other location to have a drink. This ensures sober driving, keeping you and other riders safe.
These are a few useful and easy tips to incorporate into your side-by-side routine whether you're a new rider or one who has owned a handful of these vehicles. Continue to practice these side-by-side safety tips so it becomes a natural habit. Doing so will make you a more mindful and prepared rider.