If you are lucky enough to own a rugged four-wheel drive vehicle like a Jeep, you probably spend most of your weekends taking to the trails, enjoying nature and blazing new pathways. As with any activity involving a motor vehicle, however, off-roading carries the risk for a serious motor vehicle accident without the proper precautions.

Whether you are a first-time Jeep owner or a veteran who needs a refresher, abide by these safety tips when the time comes to put your vehicle’s prowess to the test.

Study your vehicle

The more familiar you are with your Jeep’s proportions, the less likely you are to damage the vehicle or get in a crash. Examine the underside of the vehicle so you can protect low-hanging parts. Know the approach and departure angles to avoid taking on a slope your Jeep cannot handle. Before each trip, top off your fluids, check your tires and pack an emergency kit.

Go slow

Ten miles per hour should be your target speed in the woods, especially when you are facing an unfamiliar trail. While you may need to push the envelope to get over a particularly challenging hill, in general, you should travel at a crawl. Approach obstacles at an angle but take hills straight on to avoid rolling the vehicle.

Yield right of way

Many off-road trails are shared by hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Give these groups the right-of-way when approaching on a trail. Slow down and pass considerately without kicking up dust.

Stay seated

When the vehicle is moving, every occupant should be in a seat with a seatbelt. Do not operate the vehicle when a passenger is standing.

Bring a friend

When you go off-roading alone, you increase your chances of getting stuck. Plan to travel in a  group or at least tell someone exactly where you are going and when you plan to return.

Follow these off-roading safety tips to avoid damaging your vehicle or getting injured. Enjoy your next adventure without mishap.