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4 Wheel Drive Tips

A simple article discussing how 4wd vehicles are different from other cars on the roads and the safety needed in driving them.
The Basic Information on Owning a 4 Wheel Drive Vehicle

How are 4 wheel drive vehicles different than other vehicles?
  • Drivers have a higher seating position and better vision of the road.
  • A 4WD recreational vehicle has a higher center of gravity. It offers a combination of tires and long travel suspension that are a compromise between on-road and off-road capability. The vehicle may not hug the road as well as a driver is used to and it is likely to have greater mass than a car to slow down.
  • Research shows 4WD vehicles are more likely to roll over than other light vehicles. The chances of a vehicle rolling over also increase with each additional passenger. A fully loaded 4WD vehicle is more likely to roll after a sudden evasive maneuver or fast cornering than a 4WD vehicle containing only a driver.
  • In a vehicle collision, heavier 4WD vehicles can do a serious amount of damage to people in other vehicles. And some older 4WD vehicles may not have the built-in crumple zones that modern cars benefit from.
  • Rollover crashes have been identified as a major cause of spinal injury.
  • In terms of crash test worthiness, studies have found 4WDs fared better than mid-sized and compact cars, vans and commercial vehicles. However, overall, luxury and large cars do a better job of preventing severe injury to the driver.
  • All of this means 4WD drivers are wise to take more care, and modify their driving style from how they would drive a car. See the driving tips below.

  • How are 4 wheel drive vehicles different than other vehicles?
  • Anti-rolling design features.
  • Strong roof support pillars.
  • ABS brakes.
  • Dual airbags.
  • Side intrusion bars.
  • Side air bags.
  • Headrests for all seating positions.
  • A lap-sash belt for the middle passenger in the second row of seats.

  • 4 wheel drive vehicles are the safest for other drivers when they -
  • Do not have bull bars.
  • Do have crumple zones.
  • Are driven by people who have been trained in their use.

  • After purchasing your 4 Wheel Drive vehicle, carefully read these driving tips -
  • Go around corners MORE SLOWLY than you would in a car - the higher center of gravity means your 4WD vehicle handles differently, and you need to allow for this.
  • As with any vehicle, always wear a well-adjusted safety belt. 4WD recreational vehicles are more likely to roll over in a crash than other vehicles - wearing a safety belt is the best way to protect your neck and spine. Safety belts also keep you in the vehicle - anyone thrown from a vehicle is highly unlikely to survive if their vehicle rolls onto them.
  • Be very mindful of other road users given the greater degree of injuries 4WD recreational vehicles inflict.
  • Place heavy items inside the vehicle behind a cargo barrier, and only put light items on a roof rack.
  • Increase your following distance - it may take you longer to stop than in a car.
  • Remember that while the size and shape of your 4WD may improve your field of vision, it can reduce the field of vision for other road users.
  • Because you have a higher center of gravity, drive defensively - you are much safer if you never have to make any sudden swerving or evasive moves.
  • If you don't need bull bars for off-road travel, don't have them fitted - they can be lethal for other road users.

  • Most Importantly

    Remember that you are not any safer in your 4WD recreational vehicle than you would be in a car - appreciate the handling characteristics of your 4WD and modify your driving style accordingly.

    Taking an Offroad Trip?

    If you are going to use your 4WD off-road it makes sense to join a four wheel drive club in your area. Ask your local dealer or a specialist off-road training provider for more information.

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