Spotting and what it means

With thanks to the late Ross Maybe

A SPOTTER is a person outside your vehicle whose job it is to guide a driver and his vehicle through difficult obstacles safely to prevent damage to the vehicle and possible harm to its occupants. Your Spotter can see what you cannot, where your vehicle’s tires are in relation to an obstacle that you are attempting to traverse and other hazards. Your Spotter is your extra set of eyes.As the driver, you must remember to follow your spotter’s instructions by reactions that are slow, smooth and gradual. Never react with extreme or rapid movements unless your Spotter indicates that they are necessary.

It is the Driver’s responsibilities to keep his eyes on the spotter at all times and not try to second guess. However, it is OK if at any time you have a doubt, and it is safe to do so, you may stop your vehicle and get out to look at what the Spotter wants you to do, until the Driver and Spotter establish a trusting relationship.

To signal for the vehicle to move forward, the Spotter will slowly and repeatedly curl their hands toward him/herself and the Driver should respond by slowly and smoothly pulling forward. The Spotter may curl their arms more rapidly or aggressively indicating that he wants the Driver to move faster and the Driver should respond by smoothly increasing speed. Some obstacles may require more speed or momentum to clear them, at which time it may be wise for the Spotter to stop the Driver and approach the stationary vehicle in order to verbally communicate what he wishes the Driver to do. The Spotter will wave the Driver on through once the obstacle has been cleared.
Sometimes you will have a tire at or near the edge of a ledge and you want it to drop off slowly to prevent bounce and possible body or bumper contact with the ground. Your Spotter will slowly pump his hands up and down with hands held open and flat in a horizontal or near horizontal position.

When your Spotter wants you to turn your steering wheel, either left or right, they will simply point to the left or right, whichever direction they want you to turn. Driver needs to respond by turning the wheels in the indicated direction, slowly and gradually (DO NOT OVERSTEER), until the Spotter stops pointing that direction. If the Spotter needs the Driver to steer more aggressively, pointing should become more emphatic by employing a pumping motion. Once the Spotter stops pointing and indicates the ‘forward’ signal, the Driver (THIS IS IMPORTANT and probably the hardest concept of spotting to grasp) should stop turning the steering wheel and instead hold it in that position until the Spotter indicates to turn it again in either direction. In other words, when the Spotter wants the Driver to steer back straight or sharper, he must signal that wish to the Driver.

If the Driver has responded properly to a ‘turn’ signal, then the Spotter will simply point for the Driver to steer their vehicle in the direction necessary to regain a straight steering direction. The Spotter may also hold hands flat; open in a vertical position parallel to each other to indicate that he wants the Driver to keep his steering wheels straight forward.

This one is very simple, the Spotter will make closed fists with their hands and the Driver should immediately bring the vehicle to a complete stop and hold there until the Spotter signals a different action.

Spotters should be viewed as a GUIDE ONLY. As the Driver you are solely responsible for the ultimate safety of your vehicle and passengers.

Christopher Pullen Rev 3 10/08