Advice to the wise: How to always be mindful of safety

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Nov 14, 2022 | Honda, Safety, Column | Posted in Safety , Columns | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: David S. Wallens

With the advantage of hindsight, perhaps sending off two absolute noobs in an off-road, high-performance side-by-side during a press introduction was asking for an incident.

Ever drive one of these before?”

Nope. You?”


We’d figure it all out somehow, right? Gas on the right, brakes on the left, no bumping.

For the first session, I’d be the passenger/ballast.

Halfway through our …

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J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
11/14/22 12:30 p.m.

Hindsight always seems to be 20/20, especially in these situations. It's a good reminder.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
11/14/22 3:25 p.m.

Oof. Glad you mostly got a reminder of how wrong things can go, though it doesn't sound like "unscathed" is quite the word either.

Important stuff, calculated risk, and figuring out how much calculation to do, and when there are important differences between "casual" and "stupid." That's very much not directed at anybody in this anecdote, it's just a truly difficult thing to spot, doubly so if the flow of the event is sweeping you along.

I've been thinking about this sort of thing lately with a longing eye cast toward some of the Australian and British car and bike track events. I like how these seem (from a distance, at least) to keep some of the aggression and competition tamped down where it's not appropriate, but I also don't know how one fosters—let alone enforces—the sort of "casual but serious" combo needed to keep things light while not so light as to be inappropriate for the fundamentals of vehicles on track. And they don't have perfect records, either.

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
11/14/22 3:37 p.m.

These things, in stock form, can't be tossed too hard.  And the factory roll cages are made of tin foil.  They need to be lower, stiffer, and a proper cage fitted before they're safe to push things.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
11/14/22 4:00 p.m.

There was a time not long before working at GRM when I sold used cars. (I was very bad at it.)

The short version is that I didn't listen to my gut when a young driver (probably about my age) wanted to test drive a C6 ZR1. Both of us walked away, but the world lost a ZR1 that night.

te72 HalfDork
11/19/22 7:01 p.m.

These things are the three wheelers of the modern age.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/19/22 7:40 p.m.
te72 said:

These things are the three wheelers of the modern age.

You know, you might have a point there. Still surprised at how easily we rolled. It was like we fell off a step or something. 

aircooled MegaDork
11/19/22 10:49 p.m.

Those things look like the result of a dare by someone to see if they could sell millions of vehicles that are as roll happy as possible in an environment of extreme vehicle safety.

I remember seeing commercials for some version (almost the cost of a road car BTW) and then a few months later commercials from one of those law firm looking for people injured when driving one.  I would have thought the lawsuits would have killed them by now.

As a Corvair guy, I can guarantee those thing are way easier to roll than a pre 64 Corvair (lates are almost impossible to roll) which in reality is rather hard to roll except in some rather rare circumstances..

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/21/22 12:01 p.m.

Does anyone here have a side-by-side? How are you digging it? And roll it yet? 

californiamilleghia UltraDork
11/21/22 12:14 p.m.
te72 said:

These things are the three wheelers of the modern age.

The first 3 wheeler I got on , 10 minutes later I looped it going up a small hill and it was on top of me running !

Not hurt, just a few scratches , but I learned to lean forward and had fun with them for years :)

My buddies built theirs up with 3x the horsepower and I learned not to ride over my skill just to keep up , 

Tom1200 UberDork
11/21/22 3:01 p.m.

I don't own one but have multiple friends that do...............if you chuck them around like a rally car it only takes a small rut to put it on it's lid. Basically if you can keep the rear tires spinning you're fine but if they suddenly grip you're likely going over.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/21/22 3:18 p.m.

FWIW, I did become fast friends with my driver. We broke bread that evening. I might have gotten more than a few hugs. 

madmrak351 Reader
11/22/22 7:41 p.m.

All vehicles require some level of respect by nature. Learning what that level is can be hazardous if one has not received the proper background information and applied it. Had a friend who had his arm broken in a situation similar to yours. He was a passenger, driver was on his first drive in a side by side. Transitioning from dirt to pavement in a slide was not kind. Arm restraints are a great idea for these vehicles. Would the average user wear them? I seriously doubt it. It’s a fine line between protecting people from themselves and restricting our abilities to enjoy our hobbies. I don’t know where that point is. I see at least 98 percent of the ATV riders around here riding without helmets. Risk management should be a personal decision. Education can help people make the right decisions. I am glad the GRM provides their readers with good information on safety related to our sport. Glad that your outcome was better than my friends.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/22/22 7:49 p.m.

This wasn't my first crash but, thinking back, it was more like a bike crash than a car crash in that it all happened so quickly. All of a sudden, it really was sky, ground, sky, ground. All the while my brain was trying to catch up: Is this really happening? 

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