If you are new to off-roading, and find yourself out with friends who are also new to the sport, knowing how to spot can be an essential skill to staying safe and having an enjoyable time on your early adventures with your Jeep.
There are essentially two types of spotters:
1. Spotters who guide you entirely over the obstacle, deciding and directing the driver’s line. To do this you must understand the impacts the differences in the vehicles will have on getting over the obstacles – differences like width, wheelbase, tire size, ground clearance, etc.
You, as the spotter, must understand that you are taking direct control, and a large amount of responsibility, from the driver. This type of spotting takes experience, and is more difficult for new drivers.
2. Spotters who work with driver to assist the line he or she selects. In this scenario the driver has identified help needed in the form of an extra set of eyes, but not complete direction. For example, this spotter may be enlisted to watch the top or back end for clearance from a protruding rock or tree branch; or to help the driver find a rock he or she wants to be sure to hit with a particular tire.
Sharing the responsibility with the driver, the spotter in this scenario is more in the role of ensuring the vehicle stays on line, or is undamaged through the obstacle.
This second type of spotting is a much better way for new drivers to learn together, and although it takes a little longer because the drivers must exit the vehicle and decide approach, and communicate that to the spotter, it is recommended that new drivers start here.
Regardless of which type of spotter you are, follow these rules to stay safe and be successful-
1. There is one spotter and only one spotter. Multiple directions from multiple sources confuses drivers.
2. Use good communication. Either communicate direction over the radio utilizing “driver” and “passenger” direction, or use hand signals.
3. Stay consistent with communication. If giving verbal directions, stay verbal and keep your language the same (don’t switch between driver/passenger and right/left). If using hand communication, stay with it and don’t start yelling too.
4. Stay safe by staying out in front or out of the line of the vehicle.
As you and your group work your way through the obstacles, together, everyone will gain a better understanding in your vehicles different capabilities. Please continue to follow out blog posts – we will cover more about spotting soon.