African Outdoor Group Off-road training

By Jude Katende

Daniel Babooza of African Outdoor Group (centre) takes journalists through drills of using a head restraint.

Four wheel drive

Drive as slow as possible but as fast as necessary

Control your driving techniques

Proceed gently

If in doubt, carry out a recce on foot

Avoid excessive wheel spin and braking

Select the correct gear

Drive safety

1. Seats 2.steering wheel 3.pedals

Seat adjustment

Legs first

Adjust seat while leg is on clutch in 30/40 degree bend

Steering wheel

Always have both hands on wheel as you drive

Adjust seating with wrists on top of the steering wheel

Safety belt

Primary restraint system

3 point primary restraint system (shoulder, chest, lap)

Momentum (speed x mass) = this is what the primary restraint system tries to avoid

Head rest restraint



Top of restraint system should be within eye view

Passive safety features

Are the safety features in car that keep you alive in case you it something while driving.

Safety cell or body zone

Car body in A, B, C, D-first door, next, rear


New cars test assessment programme

64 kph is speed used in collision tests

Crumple zone

Zigzag line (crash zone sensor)

ECU –electronic control unit helps in monitoring the sensoring system in case of collision.

Pretensioner takes up slack

Nobody under the age of 12 should sit in front because pretensioner could sack them in and submarine or be hit by the airbag

Supplementary/secondary restraint system (SRS)

Journalists change cars as they go through of-raod driving drills.

-Single stage airbag, dual stage airbag

-Airbag deploys at about 300 kph worth of speed and can hurt in case of bad sitting   position. It is advisable you sit upright

-Primary stage airbag is faster

-Dual stage airbag deploys slowly

Load limiter

Feels how much weight you have on the safety belt in a collision and releases an airbag

Steering positions

Quarter to 3pm is preferred while 10 to 2 is bad, keep thumbs out.

Telescopic and rack adjustment

The higher the steering wheel, the easier to drive

More foot on the pedal and less toes

Side airbags

Curtain -deploys from above

Thorax – deploys from side of seats

*Airbags only work when one is wearing their safety belts

Driver safety

Avoid driving with loose objects in the car

They can hit your car or the screen in case of an accident. Keep them stored or fastened somewhere.

Window height

Driver’s side- window should be half way while all the rest are up. Radio should be off. This helps you to detect any problem such as a tyre bursting, dust, tree branches coming into the car etc.

When the body falls over 17-20 degrees, you will stick out your arms and face but with half the window closed, you’ll be protected.

When driving off-road, stay away from the clutch as much a possible. An obstacle is an area that would require you to slow down or stop. If you see an obstacle, choose one gear quickly and stick to it till you have passed the obstacle. However, when going uphill, an automatic 4×4 is better than manual.

Ground clearance

Distance between the lowest point of vehicle and the ground.

Independent suspension is for comfort-ability and road handling for on-road driving. Solid beam suspension (rear) helps balance ground clearance in case car is loaded at the rear.

Wheel base

Distance between distance front and rear wheel axle, measured hub to hub.

Gradibilty angle

The incline /decline angle car can travel before rolling over.

More weight, more grip on the road.

2 High 2wd


4 high 4wd


      N-neutral balance


4 low  4wd

2H used on tar roads only

4H used on gravel roads (high speed off road, sand dunes etc).


The pull-abilty of the car

Differential-line used to transfer power to wheels

Front wheels are connected to the rear shaft

From tar to gravel, do less than 100kph, say about 30kph

Low range 30kph

Power follows path of least resistance

Cross wheel articulation (axle)

To stop wheel from spinning, select diff lock

Stop the car and switch on diff lock in case car is stuck.

Proper planning prevents poor performance

Going uphill

1.what is the gradibilty angle?

2. what is the road surface like? The route?

3. what is my gear?

4.what of a failed hill climb?


If manual car stalls on hill

Use handbrake, brakes, gear ring

Clutch in slowly and engage reverse

Release clutch while foot is on pedal and hand in 2:45pm position, thumb out. Release handbrake, start, release brake but don’t step on accelerator, go!

Alert driving

Decision making factors

Speed: the faster you drive the less time you have to think

The less distance and space-the more out of control the vehicle gets

Space: look well ahead, adjust rear view mirror

Blind spots

Traction: evaluate continuously because grip changes

Daniel Babooza of African Outdoor Group talks to a journalist about handling uphill situations.


S-search for potential problems

I –identify problems

P-predict what might happen next

D-decide on action

E-execute your decision


Causes of skids-yaw

Types of skids-front and rear wheel skids

Front skidding –understeer

Rear wheel skid-oversteer

All wheels-4 wheel steer

Surface does not cause skids


B-excessive brake/ing causes skids

Keep braking in case of problem even when you have anti-lock braking system

A-excessive acceleration

S-excessive speed makes one lose control

S-excessive steering makes one lose control

Front wheel, rear wheel and 4×4 drive cars can have their under steer controlled the same way.

-to control under steer, decelerate, release steering gently then brake.

-to control over steer, step on clutch.

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