The roads we travel & why it might be losing its appeal explores some trends in 4×4 owners attitudes when out and about. Is this the new norm?
It’s been awhile since I have written for the “Stories from the Field” blog, there are a number of reasons for this which I won’t go into now. In the meantime, I will write about observations I have made of late, not about photography but about road travel in general.
Over the last few months, I have been going back to my grass roots theory and belief that heading bush and exploring the natural world is good for the soul. For those that know me, or have explored my website, maybe have followed my blog or just listened to stories I recount. You would be aware that I have travelled extensively and experienced many things in my life. I’m at home in the bush, sometimes in a solitary fashion other times in a group setting. Either way, I have been around the block a few time and not just sat at home watching television.
Since, the 4×4, SUV or ”offroader” has become the must have vehicle of choice, there has been a huge shift in the driving experience on roads we like to travel to find adventure and enjoy nature. It’s not for the better experience in many cases.
Let me explain a little further.
Go back to the 1980’s or 90’s and the 4×4 was owned and operated by mostly rural people or people that had a real sense of adventure and wanted to get away from the city to explore new back roads or places. Generally these people took the time to learn the ethics and best practices of country driving, they travelled slower on the roads and you would always get a wave from a passing vehicle or a wave from the farmer working their land.
These days, it appears that many buy a 4×4 and hit the roads with little thought to what is actually involved in this different type of driving or how to behave and share the roads with others. Country driving is very different to city driving in many ways and in many cases if you use your city driving style on dirt or country roads, you end up in a ditch or in a head on collision.
Money or the type of 4×4 you drive doesn’t translate into common sense or a bullet proof experience. You can own the latest and greatest vehicle with all the gear fitted and still end up as a statistic of what not to do. YouTube is full of videos where people get into situations that they shouldn’t have been in, many seem to think it’s a badge of honour to do silly things. Ask yourself this, what is more interesting to many people, watching somebody in strife or someone doing a good job at negotiating a difficult hazard with consideration to the environment and other road users?
My point being, to many offroading is a video of what not to do. There is even a TV show (think, All Aussie Adventures) the show displays this sort of mindset as a tongue in cheek laugh. Believe me when I say, there are many real people out there that think this is the way to behave when out in nature.
So, what am I talking about here when the title says, “The Roads we travel & why it might be losing its appeal.”.
Well, firstly I must point out I’m not talking about the Grey Nomads, that’s another story altogether! I’m referring to those that have a four wheel drive, a SUV, AWD or some other type of “off road” vehicle that take to the back roads or 4×4 tracks on weekends or during the week, if they are lucky enough to have the free time off work.
Mainly city or town folk wanting to travel down the dirt roads or back country roads in search of adventure. I’m not begrudging their sense of adventure. I encourage everyone to get out to explore new adventures. What annoys me and I’m sure many others, who have been around awhile travelling these same roads, is that there appears to be a great lack of common sense displayed by these newcomers to this exciting world of discovery and adventure which awaits everyone eager to explore.
It’s a familiar situation where people don’t seem to take the time to educate themselves or they just don’t really care. They have the new car and seen some location somewhere and want to go there at any cost. As stated before, city driving is totally different from country road driving or off road driving. That’s just part of why these modern explorers are becoming a threat to explorers who really do want to explore in a safe environment, not just say they have been somewhere.
Recently, I have revisited many locations which I have visited before in years gone by only to find the roads cut up with ruts and excessive damage to the vegetation or roads being ripped apart from thoughtless people, through lack of experience using their vehicle as a bulldozer to compensate their lack of skill. The other thing I see more often is the amount of rubbish littering the sides of roads or tracks and in picnic or camping areas.
Then there is the problem of a total lack of understanding of good manners to fellow travellers or local people’s property.
Listing my pet peeves would be a long long list really, so I’ll keep it short and to the most disturbing.
- Driving at speed on dirt roads with blind corners, single lane access or steep gradings.
- Not slowing down when passing another vehicle, think dust, flying stones etc.
- Not putting on their headlights when travelling in wooded, shaded areas or early morning or late afternoon.
- Not sharing the hard surface of the road when passing another vehicle from the opposite direction, they stick to the centre of the road and make you pull over or stop.
- Tailgating on dirt roads trying to force you to pull over to let them pass.
- Driving at speed past rural houses, throwing dust everywhere.
- Making new fire places in camping grounds because they don’t want to use the existing fire pit.
- Cutting living trees in camp areas
- Littering: Bring it in, then take it out!
- Not using provided toilets for #2’s (usually happens at night), then leaving toilet paper and feces uncovered.
So please before your next adventure out in nature or you go for a drive in the country, stop and think about what YOU can do to make the day enjoyable for all fellow adventurers and the environment.
And don’t forget to be considerate towards the people that live in these areas everyday.
My tips to help make everybody’s day enjoyable.
- Slow down, going a little slower allows you to take in the vista and see new things safely.
- Slowing down on dirt roads, causes less dust, road damage and vehicle damage.
- Turn on your headlights not so you can see but so others can see YOU
- Be considerate to other road users
- Take your rubbish with you wherever you go. Don’t litter
- Use existing fire pits
- Bury your human waste, if no toilet is provided
- When camping, keep the noise is a reasonable level, consider fellow campers.
- Don’t “hog” shelter sheds in camping or picnic grounds
If we all are more considerate and look after the places we would like to explore, they may remain accessible for years to come but if we continue on the current path where a few just don’t care, it used to be the minority not being thoughtful for the majority but now it’s majority not being thoughtful for the minority and we could lose access to these special places for ever.