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4x4 Rollover Safety - Roll, Recover, Repeat

Christian Lee | Writer
Posted January 1, 2008
Photographers: Kevin McNulty

Trail Rollover Safety

For those who push the limits of their 4x4, rolling over is inevitable. By planning ahead and being ready for such a situation, however, both vehicle and occupants can survive a rollover ordeal and chalk it up as a trail mishap.

There are risks to tackling 4WD trails beyond just breaking parts. The biggest risk, of course, is that of personal injury in the event of a rollover. Although being in a vehicle during a rollover can be frightening, it doesn't have to result in injury. By taking a number of steps before hitting the trail and during the actual rollover situation you can greatly increase your chances of emerging unscathed with a vehicle capable of continuing up the trail.

Before-The-Trail Check List
Tie It Down

Quite often, people are injured by loose gear flying about the cab during a rollover. Tying down your gear could save you a head injury and will also keep gear well contained so you'll have less to clean up should your vehicle flop over. This includes checking under the hood to make sure all items are secure.

Getting around this large rock in the trail required riding high on the driver side of the Jeep. Situations such as this can lead to a rollover. A bumper with a large front hoop is a useful aid in limiting rollover damage. The idea is that if the vehicle rolls on its lid, the front hoop will protect the hood from hitting the ground.

Most of you know that it's important to wear seatbelts at all times, but when's the last time you looked at the condition of your seatbelt attachment points? Rusted floorboards or loose seatbelt bolts can result in ineffective seatbelts. Harness-type quick-release belts should be considered if you tackle hardcore trails.

Tire Pressure
Adjust the tire air pressure to suit the terrain. Lower psi will create a wider contact patch and make sidewalls more flexible so they conform to obstacles.

Always keep your hands, feet, and head inside the vehicle. Pretty easy advice, but where do you put your hands during a rollover? The driver should typically hold on to the steering wheel. The idea is to stabilize yourself within the vehicle so you don't rag-doll around as your 4x4 tumbles. Every 4x4 should have enough grab handles within easy reach of the passenger as well. You should also never grab ahold of the rollbar itself since fingers can be easily crushed by the terrain below. If your 4x4 doesn't have permanent grab handles in place, a set of strap-on handles can be added to any rollbar. Rollbar padding should also be used in areas around the bar where driver and passenger heads might make contact.


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