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!