Mountain Driving

Mountain Driving

In mountain driving, gravity plays a major role; on any upgrade, gravity slows you down.

  • The steeper the grade, the longer the grade, and/or the heavier the load–the more you will have to use lower gears to climb hills or mountains.
  • When coming down long, steep downgrades, gravity causes the speed of your vehicle to increase.

Maneuvering a Downgrade:

  • You must select an appropriate safe speed, then use a low gear, and proper braking techniques.
  • You must go slowly enough so your brakes can hold you back without getting too hot.
  • If the brakes become too hot, they may start to “fade.”
  • This means you have to apply them harder and harder to get the same stopping power.
  • If you continue to use the brakes hard, they can keep fading until you cannot slow down or stop at all.
  • You should plan and obtain information about any long, steep grades along your planned route of travel.
  • If possible, talk to other drivers who are familiar with the grades to find out what speeds are safe.

Select a “Safe” Speed

Your most important consideration is to select a speed that is not too fast for the:

  • Total weight of the vehicle and cargo.
  • Length of the grade.
  • Steepness of the grade.
  • Road conditions.
  • Weather.

Mountain Driving Key Points

  • If a speed limit is posted, or there is a sign indicating “Maximum Safe Speed,” never exceed the speed shown.
  • Look for and heed warning signs indicating the length and steepness of the grade.
  • You must use the braking effect of the engine as the principal way of controlling your speed.
  • The braking effect of the engine is greatest when it is near the governed rpms and the transmission is in the lower gears.
  • Save your brakes so you will be able to slow or stop as required by road and traffic conditions.