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.
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.