Dave from Smart-Trucking advises drivers of the perils that await them in the coming winter months, and how to handle their rig safely.
He captioned the video, “Driving on mountain highways, is a specialized set of skills for the professional truck driver.
There are some strategies which can be implemented by the truck driver to maintain control over the truck, and retain traction when ascending or descending a mountain road. Dave talks about how to handle an emergency situation in the event that the driver does lose control of his truck on a hill or mountain – Re – utilizing a runaway lane.
Driving in the mountains is not something to be taken lightly by the professional driver. It’s dangerous terrain, even in fair weather months.”
Overall, Dave’s rule of thumb is that slow and steady wins the race – nobody ever died from going down the mountainside too slow.
He explains that it helps if you run the route quite regularly; however, there are still chances that you can encounter the occasional surprise around the corner. For example, there could be a patch of ice in the shadows or some tourist broken down or stopped to take pictures. Just because you are familiar with the route, do not get overconfident.
If you don’t know the hill, do not sit at the top of it and try to judge the road. Check for grade signs and creep down the hill, don’t let it run away on you to only later find out it’s a lot steeper than it looks.
Don’t go too fast on the hill, let the jack brake do the work. Just touch the brake pedal and that will help keep you straight going down the hill if you’re aligned.
You can still overheat the truck in the winter going up a grade. A few things to remember: if the grade is slippery throw in the diffs before you start the climb, don’t push the truck up the hill just let it walk up the hill. If you push the truck too hard, you can overheat so keep your eye on the temperature gauge.
If the road has been run by other trucks, make your own tracks a little bit to the right of the ones already on the road to allow for better traction.
Dave claims that the most challenging situation you will run into when driving a truck for a living is countering major hills – especially bad weather snow-covered hills.
When climbing a slippery hill, Dave recommends that the axle is interlocked and aged so that all the drive wheels are in touch with the driveshaft.
Dave advises that when climbing a hill, he likes to keep the motor closer to the top of its rpm range. If the wheels do decide to spin a couple hundred rpm before they hit the limiter and then they can’t spin any faster.
Do not wait until you spin out and start to slide back down the hill to put your chains on.
If you see clear ice or freezing rain, don’t even go up or down the hill: wait for the sanders.
Listen to the CB radio before getting to the hill in order to assess the conditions prior to getting all the way there.
Pay attention to signs, do not underestimate the conditions they warn about.
Be prepared for changing weather patterns as you ascend or descend the hill. As always, you want to leave as much room as possible between you and the guy in front of you. You need to leave room for a margin of error in case you get into trouble.
Runaway lanes are different depending on what state or province they are in. Usually, the truck will stop on its own at the top of the runaway lane because when it comes to a stop it’ll sink into the soft material at the top of the hill. If for some reason the truck has come to a stop and then starts to roll back down the runaway ramp, immediately jump out of the truck and get as far away as possible.
Keep a cool head. Drive safely. Don’t go too quickly.