At DriverSource, we know that driving in mountainous terrain can be intimidating for even the most seasoned driver. The steep grades, alone, require downgrading gears and adjusting speeds. Throw in the hazards associated with the high elevation, such as ice and snow, and you have the makings of a true ‘white-knuckling’ experience! We hire experienced CDL drivers, many having experience driving under these conditions. Still, there are tips that drivers should follow when hauling a load through the mountains.
Adhering to the following advice will help keep any driver safe while hauling their load through the mountains:
- Pay Attention to Steep Grade Warning Signs and Take Appropriate Action
Regardless of the number of times you may have traveled a particular route through the mountains, always pay attention to warnings of steep grade ahead and slow down. You never know about the condition of the road ahead. It could be icy or slippery. Always error on the side of taking it slower than necessary.
- The Mantra is “SLOW AND STEADY”
Follow the advice of the turtle… go “slow and steady”. You want to creep down steep grades. Let the jake brake do the work. Don’t try to determine speed by eyeing the grade ahead. It is very difficult to judge. If you are wrong, you could enter at too high a speed and find it impossible to regain control.
- Retain Traction on the Grade
You want to retain traction at all times. On slippery grades, use all the drive wheels to aid in pulling you up the hill. Also, avoid following the track of the vehicle ahead of you. Instead, make your own tracks. If necessary, drive with one set of tires on the shoulder for extra traction. Accelerate gradually to avoid spinning the wheels.
- Stay Abreast of the Weather And Chain Up When Necessary
Knowledge of weather conditions is important when driving through mountain routes. Plan your trip and determine the need for chains by closely following weather reports. Chain at the bottom of the hill. If the forecast is really bad, you might reroute yourself to avoid steep grades where possible. Changing weather conditions may require you to stay put until the roads are sanded or conditions improve.
- Avoid Tailgating!
Tailgating is always bad, but doing it on a steep grade can be suicide! In such terrain, you need lots of space to straighten out the truck and slow it down. The last thing you want is to be boxed in because you are tailgating someone ahead of you. Even if you can control your vehicle, the driver in front of you may jackknife, lose control, or hit a patch of ice.
- Regain Control Using this Tip
If you feel you are losing control of your rig, try moving one set of wheels onto the shoulder. Catching gravel can help straighten the unit out. Gently tapping the brakes can also aid in bringing the truck under control.
- When All Else Fails, Use the Runaway Lanes
Runaway lanes are there for a reason. If you can’t bring your rig under control, use them. It can prevent injury to you and others.
Bill for DriverSource