Off-road driving is exciting and adventurous, but it requires skill. To ensure that most of your offroading memories are good, you’ll find a few pointers listed in this section to help you get on your way.
The key elements are simple – be prepared and use your common sense. Leave your macho fantasies of invincibility at home – the good off-roader is careful and cautious, with a high regard for safety and the environment.
The basic items of essential equipment can be sourced through in the shopping section. If your trip takes you into Oman, including any of the Omani enclaves, make sure your vehicle is insured for both the UAE and Oman. If it’s not, you should be able to extend your cover to include Oman for the duration of your trip, although this will probably involve an extra charge. You’ll need to collect a certificate from your provider to prove that the insurance covers you for driving in Oman.
When hiring a 4WD, ensure that the insurance specifically covers off-road driving. Bizarrely, not all companies will provide off-road cover automatically, even though you are hiring an offroad vehicle, so check before you hire.
If you’re new to dune bashing, there are a number of companies and organisations that run beginner’s courses. There are plenty of off-road clubs in the UAE and these are another excellent resource. Most clubs are extremely welcoming to newbies and organise beginners’ drives when more experienced drivers are happy to show first timers the ropes.
Off-road driving is fun, but safety should be your top priority. Always be sensible and patient, and practise your off-road skills whenever you can.
Accidents Will Happen
If you are involved in an accident off-road, you are required to get a police report at the scene (even if it is a minor mishap or if only your car is involved). In some cases this may mean driving out to find the police and leading them back to where the accident took place. Without the report you will not be able to make your insurance claim or get repairs carried out on the car.
When accidents happen in remote areas, where there are no hard-and-fast rules of the road, it may be difficult for the police to assign blame. In such cases, both parties may have to bear joint responsibility for the accident and each driver must submit insurance claims only for the damages to their car.
Driving In Convoy
The first rule of driving in convoy is that each driver is responsible for the car behind. This ensures that the convoy travels at the speed of the slowest car, and everyone returns to civilisation together. The second rule is to leave sufficient space between you and the car ahead. This obviously depends on the speed you are travelling and the terrain, but should be 20 to 40 metres. Not only does this prevent pile-ups if the lead car stops suddenly, but it also stops you from getting bombarded by clouds of dust and flying stones.
Don’t worry if you can’t always see the car ahead, especially in confined areas where it’s impossible to tailgate a car to the top of a dune. But it can be useful to watch how the driver in front of you handles tricky situations, such as ridges and dunes, before you follow them. Don’t attempt to negotiate tricky parts of your route before the car ahead of you has cleared it – if they fail and you are in hot pursuit, both vehicles can come to an abrupt stop and get stuck. If your lead car does get stuck, keep your hand on the horn to warn oncoming cars before they come flying over the dune. If you are last in the convoy and you get stuck, turn your headlights on so that those ahead of you can see you’re in trouble.
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