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Off-roaders encourage everyone to stay safe when traveling on Idaho backcountry

FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI) - We are currently in the 100 deadliest days of summer, and while we are concerned about safety on the road, there is heightened awareness of caution while going off-road.

Benjamin Schlegel, his family and friends were enjoying a trip to the Sand Dunes near St. Anthony, when ten minutes into their trip the unexpected happened.

"He crashed ten minutes in. We are all excited, but that was kind of a reminder like, hey, this is you know it's for fun, but it's also really serious," Benjamin said.

He added that thankfully, his friend was wearing a helmet and turned out fine, but it brought safety to the front and center for everyone traveling with Schlegel.

"That saves you a lot. I mean, four rolls on your head. If you have a helmet, that'll save you. If you have boots, you know there's hot metal all around you. It's important. I burnt my leg one day because I wasn't wearing boots and pants, so it's important to wear the proper gear," Schlegel said.

Other off-roaders are thinking about safety this season.

"We have good harnesses in the car, obviously, things of that nature and everything. That's an important factor. A lot of people bring these side-by-sides out that have just stuck cages, stock harnesses, things like that. First thing you should upgrade, in my opinion, for safety," Robert Elwood said.

The Bonneville County Sheriff's Office says during the summer months, their backcountry deputies will perform 2-5 rescues a week in Bonneville County alone. In the Sand Dunes Memorial Day isn't long gone, but we've already had five accidents.

"Weekend camping trips or week-long camping trips sometimes up in those forest areas in the east end of our county, in the Palisades and Swan Valley and Heise area. during those times, we see a lot more people up there and, of course, you just have a higher likelihood of an incident happening," Sergeant Bryan Lovell from the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office said.

Idaho Dunes RV, a campground adjacent to the Sand Dunes says thankfully, people don't get hurt as often as you might think, thanks to safety precautions.

"We have, you know, hundreds of thousands of people that show up every single year. And, our job as the campground and as locals and almost kind of professionals, you can kind of say is to make sure people are well informed of the sand dunes and how to navigate the area. We want to make sure everyone that's going out there is safe and knows what they're doing," Garrett McGroarty from Idaho Dunes RV said.

If you are in the dunes for the first time, there's some good advice duners have shared.

"Make sure you're going out there with someone that knows what they're doing or ask questions. We have a lot of people that come out to these dunes and just go for they just full send it, and they're the ones that end up getting hurt more times than not. And so make sure you're coming into the store to talk to people who know the area, know how to get you, you know, place to place safely," McGroarty said.

"It's a good idea to go out with people that that, have some experience first time out, everything to kind of teach you the ropes and stuff," Elwood said.

Another tip to keep in mind in the dunes is to make sure your outfit has a flag attached to it. This is to keep you visible as you crest a dune from one side.

"Coming up over some of those peak hills, you don't know who's coming the other direction, you know, and everything. And if you're coming up at the same time, usually that flag sticking up and over and you see it before you see the car.  So that's why it's the taller ones are they're better," Elwood said.

"You can't see someone on a little 4-wheeler. So if you're watching over a hill, a flag might save your life. It's important," Schlegel said.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8.


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