Mountain Driving 101

When you start a new career as a professional truck driver, you can look forward to incredible scenic views across the country. Many people never get to experience the thrill of driving a powerful big rig alongside oceans, through valleys, and over mountains. Just remember that safety takes priority over enjoying the views. This is particularly true of mountain driving, which can be among the most hazardous for CDL drivers.

Ascending a Mountain Road

Look for grade signs as you get into the mountains. The grade of the road will give you an idea of the speed you should aim for while ascending and descending. As you ascend, you’ll need to downshift. Be careful not to miss a gear, since the truck may stop completely. Additionally, you should turn on the engine fan and keep a close eye on the temperature gauge. It’s easy for a truck to overheat when it’s going up a steep grade.

Descending a Mountain Road

Never underestimate the potential of a big rig to get out of control when descending a mountain road. Take it slow and steady, and leave more room than you think you need between your truck and the vehicle ahead of you. Downgrade the gear and use the Jake brake to help you maintain a safe, slow speed. Note that it’s not recommended for truckers to use the Jake brake on slippery roads.

Applying Pressure to the Brakes

Even if you’re using the Jake brake, you’ll still need to brake while descending a steep grade. Be careful not to overheat the brakes, which can melt the air lines and cause you to lose the air brakes. Just apply light, but steady pressure.

Using Tire Chains

At higher elevations, wintry weather can arrive earlier and stay later compared to lower elevations. Keep an eye on the weather reports. If heavy snow or freezing rain is predicted, consider planning an alternate route. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to pull over at the bottom of the mountain road to put on the tire chains.

If you’re interested in a rewarding career as a truck driver, come to the next open house event at Yuma Truck Driving School. Get in touch today at (888) 647-3239. Be sure to ask us about financial assistance and the use of military benefits to begin your new career!


A Guide to Your First Year on the Road

Your exciting new career on the road awaits you, and truck driving school will teach you everything you need to know about handling a big rig and passing the CDL exam. But there’s still a bit of a learning curve with regard to on-the-job training. Many veteran truckers remember their first year as being the most challenging, but once they got past this learning curve, life as a trucker became easier and more rewarding.

Partnering With a Driver Trainer

Once you’ve graduated from truck driving school and you have a CDL, you’ll be partnered with a driver trainer to finish your big rig training. You may take short trips with your trainer or you might be gone from home for several weeks at a time. Either way, it’s a lot of time to spend in a small space with someone you’ve just met. Do your best to keep the conversation pleasant and positive, even if the two of you have clashing personalities. Remember that this is an opportunity to learn from a driver who has years of experience on the road. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and request feedback on how you’ve handled different situations.

Minimizing Your Risk of Accidents

Accidents are particularly common during the first year. Make it your goal to get through your first year accident-free. Most accidents are indeed preventable. Just pay close attention to the road and to traffic, keep your speed reasonable, and always pull over if you feel yourself getting drowsy.

Adjusting to Life on the Road

Your driver trainer will show you the ins and outs of life on the road, including how to make the most of each truck stop visit. Feel free to ask questions about how your trainer sticks to a budget, stays in touch with family, exercises, or keeps mentally engaged during long trips.

The small class sizes at Yuma Truck Driving School enable you to focus on the coursework and enjoy informative exchanges with the instructors and your peers. We’ll show you everything you need to successfully navigate your first year, and every year after that. Call (888) 647-3239 to ask about our CDL training programs in Yuma, AZ.