When you’re a newer driver, the road will have many lessons left to teach you that aren’t something education material would have prepared you for alone. Instead, you’ll need to hit the asphalt and gain valuable experience driving so you can begin to develop advanced skills safely. Navigating through poor weather, handling icy conditions, and safely traversing through mountains are all valuable skills that aren’t developed simply by reading a book and taking a class. However, rather than rely on your ability to learn on the job, we’ve compiled some helpful guidelines to keep you and other motorists safe while you’re in the mountains. 

While training courses are a helpful and necessary tool, drivers also need to know what to expect, to be aware of, and have a good understanding of how to break on long slopes. According to Garth Lawrence, one of the developers of the Road-Aware app, many truck drivers under-use their engine brakes, instead, opting to use the service brakes to check their speed, which can increase brake temperature and reduce brake fade. Although they still may maintain control and have some service braking capability, it could jeopardize their ability to stop and make them prone to accidents should the sudden need for them to stop arise. 

When traversing through the mountains, the best way to keep yourself and others on the road safe is to choose a gear that will allow the truck to maintain a speed where the engine rpm is between 1,800-2,000 rpm in any of the three engine brake positions, depending on the steepness of the grade. Toggle the engine brake’s position when the grade of the road changes to maintain a safe speed, and if you need to use the service brake to check your speed, you’re in too high a gear.

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Park, Jim. “The Art & Science of Mountain Driving.” TruckingInfo, Heavy Duty Trucking, 3 July 2019, www.truckinginfo.com/335508/the-art-science-of-mountain-driving.