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In the western U.S., there are in essence three main categories of tracks open to vehicles:

  1. Unsealed roads (gravel or dirt) that are usually open to all vehicles
  2. Similar roads that can usually be driven in two wheel drive (2WD) but require high clearance under the vehicle
  3. Roads that require the use of four-wheel drive

(A fourth that rarely shows up are roads where the bed is sand and you need 4WD but don't need high clearance)

There appears to me no way to designate these, and yet the difference is tremendously important. Is there a process for adding '4WD' and 'high-clearance' as tags for tracks? Closest I see is using the surface tag as user-defined, which seems a bit ad hoc. None of the surface or tracktype tags at present seem appropriate for the kinds of roads I am thinking of.

asked 15 Apr '13, 20:22

cjones_cu's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 16 Apr '13, 02:57

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦

You may like to have a look at the Australian Tagging Guidelines which incorporate 3 additional tracktype tags for 2WD/4WD useability. It is often a matter of high importance to have appropriate tags for road condition attributes as it may be a matter of survivability, and the smoothness tags and surface tags are simply not indicative enough.

The sheer size of the Australian continent precludes signage on the ground for the plethora of existing tracks, and we place high regard on the opinion of drivers who have gone before and rated these tracks. There are enough subsequent vehicles to provide ongoing verifiability of the track condition, as this is a constant requirement for a country where sand blowouts, storms and floods are relatively frequent.

p.s. The 4WD sand track type that you mentioned occurs frequently throughout Australia.

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answered 24 May '13, 05:03

iceblueOz's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 24 May '13, 20:14

cartinus's gravatar image


It depends on whether those tags would be based on some objective, verifiable criteria, or just your opinion. Are these roads signposted in some way, or otherwise designated by a local authority as only being suitable for high ground clearance/4wd vehicles, or do you just think they are.

The existing 4wd_only=* tag should be used for roads that have been signposted that way, but not for roads where you just think you should use a 4wd. If another mapper comes along at a different time and thinks the road doesn't need a 4wd vehicle, the only way to resolve such a disagreement is to rely on what's "on the ground", so we need a sign present to use this tag.

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answered 15 Apr '13, 23:23

Jonathan%20Bennett's gravatar image

Jonathan Ben...
accept rate: 18%

edited 19 Apr '13, 09:32


Specifically the use of "4wd_only" caught on in Australia, where it is a common roadsign away from cities. There it typically applies to your categories 2 and 3.

(15 Apr '13, 23:47) SomeoneElse ♦

OK, I see smoothness tag makes sense for what ground looks like and 4wd_only was introduced for roads explicitly signed as such. I will keep the distinction in mind, thanks.

(17 Apr '13, 21:11) cjones_cu

You might want to check out the smoothness-tag, and there is also a 4wd_only=yes, which might make sense for you.

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answered 15 Apr '13, 21:13

moszkva%20ter's gravatar image

moszkva ter
accept rate: 17%

edited 16 Apr '13, 02:53

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦

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question asked: 15 Apr '13, 20:22

question was seen: 8,474 times

last updated: 24 May '13, 20:14

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum