A quick look around the policy, organisation and rules about off-road driving within the Scouts. and how to risk assess off-road driving activities.

POR Rule 9.72 - Motorsports

Motorised activities away from public roads may be undertaken when:

  • Participants must wear appropriate safety equipment for the activity being undertaken, this includes helmets for all off-road and racing activities.
  • Safety briefings must be given to all participants and marshals.
  • The activity must take place in an area with clear separation and boundary between participants and spectators/ the public.
  • The maximum speed must be considered based on the age and ability of the participant, the vehicle, the supervision, the terrain and any additional factors including legal restrictions on age e.g. quad biking.

What does POR mean?

If you’re thinking of running an off-road activity then you need to make sure the activity is correctly risk assessed and that all safety precautions are taken.
The rule states that helmets must be worn but not what type.

We recommend that cycling, climbing and most canoeing helmets are not suitable and will make the activity more dangerous due to the overhang on the rear of the helmet. BMX style helmets that follow the shape of the head are a good option and part of our research.

A simple safety briefing to be given to everyone involved, this is a simple quick chat to the participants about the activity and what to do during the activity and should cover basic things like seat belt use, how to sit in the vehicle correctly and what to do in the event of a break down or accident, etc…
A similar chat should be had with all the marshalls, drivers and other activity team members so they are aware of route, protocols, risks and what to do in an emergency.

Separation should be kept from the activity and bystanders, while at an off-road centre or campsite this could be very simple with the use of temporary fencing, barriers and signage. If green laning you are likely to encounter public and horse riders and other motor vehicles, all of which won’t be aware of what you’re doing or your intentions and in some cases may present a risk or danger to you and your participants. This is where having a good risk assessment comes into play as part of it will denote your speed and what to do in these situations.

The most suitable speed for almost every off-road activity is slow, often less than walking speed. Off-road driving isn’t a race!
These rules apply to all in scouting and include adults. It is also required to be followed if at an external centre, or when dealing with external providers. Green lanes are classed as off-road too.

Please also see the fact sheet: 120413

How to risk assess off-road driving?

We often get asked by Scouters how to do things safely and do you have a template?
The best thing to do is to think about it and start from scratch each time you do the activity. The same off-road course will be very different in different weather conditions and the surfaces will behave very differently.
For example, our Gilwell Park off-road course after prolonged sun, is like driving on concrete but add a small bit of water and it becomes an ice rink. After lots of rain, it becomes very sticky but incredibly soft and difficult to keep momentum.
If you add snow, it is easy to drive as the ground freezes – it’s the same course but can go from one extreme to the other overnight, requiring many different driving techniques and skillsets. What we are trying to say is that the weather is a very big factor and can turn a simple risk assessment into a complicated one, and as such, we need to look at the weather and plan accordingly. This is all part of the process.

Firstly decide your venue and do a site visit, plan for the weather expected (don’t rely on just one weather prediction, search around to get a better feel).
Once this is established decide what the driving skills needed will be, and what are the driver’s capabilities are and are they suitable for the expected conditions.
Then look at what other equipment is to be used and is it safe to use? What could possibly go wrong? Think about it as it should be in your risk assessment!
We can’t offer a template and could talk all day about safety and how to risk assess but the biggest things we see that get overlooked are – weather, drivers ability, vehicle suitability, PPE, un-restrained load, emergency plan, safety briefings, vehicle speed, recovery procedure and use of suitable terrain.

It is also worth remembering POR rule 9.77 other activities:
There are many opportunities for Members to take part in potentially hazardous activities which are not specifically covered in the activity rules. Before undertaking an activity of this nature the Leader concerned must:

  • assess the risks involved;
  • ensure that the Members concerned are physically and mentally able to cope with the activity;
  • ensure that all equipment used fits the participants and is suitable for the activity;
  • obtain the approval of the Home District/County Commissioner


The latest copy of POR can be downloaded here.