[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]Graham shows us just how far a little common sense can go for the 4WD community[/blockquote]

Whether you understand, accept or even realise, it’s a fact that 4WD vehicles are not always viewed in a positive manner by a (possibly high) percentage of the population. I was made aware of this many moons ago and to be honest, couldn’t really have cared less for a long time. Why should I give a stuff if someone doesn’t like the look of my truck, so long as it’s legal it’s my right to own and drive such a vehicle. Problem is – that attitude is both arrogant and detrimental.

Off-road our actions as 4WD enthusiasts are more than likely only judged by others with similar interests as our own. I’m not saying we can let our guard down when out bush, not even close but that’s simply not where the majority of the public hang out (which is perhaps the number one reason I own a 4WD in the first place). No, what I’m talking about is the public perception of 4WD ownership on streets in towns, suburbs, highways, carparks and cities. This is where we are on show and care or not, public perception matters.

Doing your best to paint 4WDs in as positive a light as possible is paramount to achieving two key goals; the first is not being singled out as a radical or offensive group and secondly to try and cement positive rather than negative connotations in the minds of the non-4WD owning public.

I’m convinced it’s small, rather than large steps that can aid in working towards these goals. Public conduct plays a huge role – driving your rig sensibly, minimizing exhaust noise in built up areas, washing mud and crap off panels, giving smaller vehicles space. Like I said, no rocket science here just plain and simple courtesy for others on the roads.

See, the thing is when a marginal sect of the community is viewed in a negative manner, the act (no matter how trivial) is compounded several fold. We as 4WD owners cannot afford that bad press. Hitting three and a half grand in second and letting that big turbo scream is a simple pleasure that I for one bloody love, but I try my best to avoid doing it in built up areas where you just look like a knobhead to those that don’t share the same passion. Likewise, we all know a curb is no match for a set of 35s, but mounting a curb just to save a few seconds in traffic looks bloody obnoxious to the general public.

Planting negative seeds in the minds of the majority will never help our causes. It’s hard enough to try and convince someone with no knowledge of bull bars that they are 100% necessary but imagine trying to convince the same individual if all they’ve ever seen is loutish or obnoxious behaviour from 4WD owners on the streets. This one example carries over into all aspects of 4WD life from modifications to track access.

Trust me when I say, it’s not lifted and locked 4WD owners making the rules that govern what we can and can’t do – It’s society. Like it or not we have to do our best to try and be seen in, at the very least, a neutral light and at best a positive light.

All jokes aside (and as tempting as it can sometimes be) it is poor form indeed to be seen giving that slow Prius in the right lane a hard time. Likewise, try and get as much mud off your rig as possible before you pull up in front of the shopping centre – It might look cool to us but Mum and the three kids just think it looks bloody offensive.

Yes, sorry to say that now more than ever, the opinions of that Mum and that Prius driver do very much matter. As a whole we need to pull our heads in and try to represent 4WD ownership in a positive manner if we want legal modifications, track access and acceptance within the
wider community.

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