Mountain roads can be full of dangers, even for those who’ve spent their whole life driving on them. Those risks are magnified for truck drivers towing heavy loads through unpredictable conditions, so it’s crucial to know how to mitigate risk with safe driving. Here are a few expert tips to keep yourself and others safe in the mountains.
5 Tips for Driving a Semi Through the Mountains
1. Use Hazard Lights
On long climbs, steep descents, and windy passages, most truck drivers find themselves going below the posted speed limit to balance safety and efficiency. In these cases, it’s always best to turn on the truck’s hazard lights to alert other drivers. Using these lights effectively keeps you and those around you safe by sharing information on your speed and the road conditions.
2. Apply Light, Steady Brake Pressure
Heavy application of the brakes can cause instability and loss of control, especially at high speeds or in bad traction conditions. Instead, light, steady pressure maximizes your control and prevents the brakes from overheating. On steep grades, you should keep the rig under 25 mph to ensure the brakes stay cool.
3. Study the Route Ahead of Time
When you’re assigned a mountainous route, dedicate part of your trip planning to finding areas that may have steep grades or sharp curves. These areas are hazardous to the unprepared, and knowing where they are and when to pay extra close attention to grading signage and road conditions will help you avoid issues.
4. Chain Up When Necessary
When gaining elevation, the weather may change drastically within of minutes. Always be prepared, and carry tire chains in the vehicle with you, no matter the season. If conditions are worsening, don’t hesitate to pull over and put the chains on. The extra traction may be the difference between a safe trip and a dangerous one.
5. Start Descent at a Safe Speed
When approaching a stretch of road on a steep downhill grade, adjust the rig’s speed ahead of time. Slow down before descent to minimize your reliance on the brakes and the possibility of overusing them. Signage leading up to the descent will warn you about how long and how steep the tracts are. Adjust your speed accordingly.
If you’re looking to become CDL-certified truck drivers, Hamrick School in Medina, OH, can help get you on the road. This fully licensed and accredited trucking school offers specialized training programs designed to get you on the road with all the tools you need. Learn more about their financial aid packages online, and call (330) 239-2229 to talk about enrolling.
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