Three of America’s five most dangerous highways are located in the western United States and feature a wide selection of jaw-dropping topography, including stunning mountain vistas, steep alpine grades, and narrow, one-way roads—sometimes without pavement.
Any trucker who’s been driving in Utah, Colorado, or Arizona for more than a year or two knows that tough terrain is part of the deal; however, just because you’re used to something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take potential risks seriously. Here are three simple tips to remember on your next trip through the mountains.
Be respectful of other drivers. When you’re behind the wheel of a fully-loaded semi, you’re responsible for nearly 80,000 pounds of cargo. That’s a lot of weight to carry on a 100-mile stretch of straight highway, not to mention driving down winding sierra grades. As such, it’s important to give other motorists their space. As you drive, regularly check both of your side mirrors. If you notice traffic starting to build up behind you, don’t hesitate to slow down, pull over, and let others pass. You’re going to get paid regardless, so why risk the safety of others?
Know your grade. Mountain roads are windy and feature countless grades, slopes, hills, and dips. In some areas, grades can change 10-30% in just a few miles. If you aren’t paying careful attention to signage and keeping your truck in low gear at all times, you could find yourself having to use a runaway truck ramp. As you can imagine, it isn’t worth the risk.
Slow and steady wins the race. During the summer months, you don’t have to worry about snow and ice, but it’s still important to adhere to the posted speed limit and go slow. The goal is to get to your destination with you and your cargo safe and in one piece. Additionally, the slower you go, the less you’ll need to use your brakes, and that means a lower risk of brake failure and other similar problems.
We get it, mountain driving is what you do best! Just make sure to do it safely.