Of the many issues drivers face, Mountain Driving is among the more dangerous activities. Between burning out your brakes and controlling your trailer when going down a steep grade, it takes skill to stay safe while driving on a hill. Here are some tips to help you stay safe when traveling up or down the mountain.
- Do a proper pre-trip.
A lot of brake failures can be found before you ever begin rolling. Make sure your brake shoes are attached, have adequate pad left for stopping, and ensure your slack adjusters are functioning. Make sure to do a pump-down.
- Don't Ride your brakes.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but applying constant pressure can cause excessive heat build-up in the brake shoes, and cause a fire. The preferred method is Stab braking, where you apply a stiff amount of braking for short times while letting the brakes cool after. Lightly holding the brakes can be used as well, though we do not recommend this if your brakes are out of adjustment.
- Ride high in the corners.
Stick closer to the outside of turns when descending (you should always do it, to be honest) as this will allow you to avoid dragging your trailer into other vehicles and obstacles.
- Avoid using the Engine Brake (Jakes).
Because of the way the engine brakes work, using them on slippery downhill slopes can lead to your trailer overtaking you or having the trailer shove you out of its way. Rely on your air brakes and remember to operate slowly enough in slippery conditions to be able to correct a skid.
- Always pull through a corner.
To help avoid a skid when cornering, try to avoid using the brakes while turning. Maintaining pull on a trailer keeps it under your control and helps eliminate braking skid situations.
- Practice down/up shifting.
Smooth shifting can avoid jerky motions, which can cause skids. Practice smooth shifts to help with this. Also, it will help you with timing your shifts when climbing the hill so that you don't lose momentum.
- Use your mirrors!
As with nearly every other tip list we do here, this one is a must. Use your mirrors, or you will not notice that your trailer is in a skid until it has passed you. Your mirrors are just as important as what is coming up, make sure to check them every 7-10 seconds.
- Don't accelerate until you are completely off the downgrade.
Many drivers begin accelerating before they're completely off the downgrade. This can be dangerous in the case of grades like Grapevine and Monteagle due to the curve at the bottom. Besides being dangerous, Highway Patrol could be lurking at the bottoms of these hills to catch speeding drivers.
We hope these simple tips help you all to stay safe doing one of the most demanding things in the transportation industry. If you have any questions or comments, Contact us at [email protected].
Author: Will Patton, Walmart Transportation