Driving through the mountains can be breathtaking. Nothing compares to the snow, the trees, and the increased altitude of a trip through the mountains. For as beautiful as driving through mountainous terrain can be, it is also dangerous.
Fear of an accident or an emergency should never be the reason why you stay at home instead of going out for an adventure in the big, wide world. Whether you have always dreamed of driving through the mountains or you’ve lived next to a mountain range your whole life, there are things you can do to make driving safer.
Brush up on Your Driving Knowledge
If you’re feeling nervous about driving through the mountains, you should brush up on your driving knowledge. It’s as easy as answering a few driving questions online and seeing if you get them right.
It is especially helpful to brush up on your knowledge of uncommon signage, as there are many signs that are unique to mountainous terrain that you won’t see anywhere else. You’ll find unique animals printed on signs, squiggly lines, and more that can tell you important information about the road ahead, as long as you know what they mean.
Prepare an Emergency Kit for the Car
Having an emergency kit in the car is always a good idea, but it is an especially good idea if you’re in the mountains. It’s an even better idea if you’re driving through the mountains in the snow.
It can be hard for crews to get to the scene of an accident or an emergency in the middle of a mountain range, especially if the weather is bad. Put these things in your car and you can rest assured that you can survive nearly any situation:
- Warm weather clothing, like mittens, socks, hats, and blankets
- Ice scraper, snow brush, windshield cleaner, and sand
- First aid kit that includes band-aids, antiseptic cream, and more
- Bottled water and food items, like granola bars
- Spare tire, jack, and lug wrench
- Foam tire sealer for punctured tires
- Baby wipes and hand sanitizer
Get Your Car Ready for the Drive
You should always get a tune up before any road trip, but it is especially important if your road trip is going to take you through mountainous terrain. Driving up and down hills and driving in inclement weather can really take its toll on your vehicle.
Make sure your brake and transmission fluids are filled, and check that essential systems, like your brakes, heating, windshield wipers, and battery are all working properly.
It is important to make sure your tires are properly inflated, and make sure you fill up your gas tank before you hit the road. Climbing steep grades uses up a lot more fuel than your normal drive. Gas stations are few and far between in the mountains, and there is no shoulder in some spots, so running out of gas is the last thing you want.
Know How to Drive the Right Way Downhill
Driving up steep hills is as simple as pressing on the gas pedal, but driving down steep hills isn’t quite so easy. If you use your brake the way you normally do, you’ll overwork your brakes. Instead, brake by using quick, light taps to keep them cool.
Keep an eye on road signs and you can start braking early. For example, if you brake before a turn, you can keep better control of your car.
Downhill driving also includes knowing what gear to put your car in. That includes automatic transmission vehicles! Learning the difference between L, 1st, and 2nd gear can save your engine and provide you with more control when driving downhill.
It is important to stay alert when you’re behind the wheel, no matter where you’re driving. However, it is especially important if you’re driving through mountainous terrain as a simple mistake can have disastrous consequences.
Focus on the road and try to avoid getting overly involved with watching the scenery. Under no circumstances should you check your phone or fiddle with things in the car. Driving out of your lane could run someone else off the road or cause an accident.
A lot of things are done to prevent rock falls in busy areas, but they can’t be prevented completely.Man-made debris can also be found on the road. Keep your eyes open to avoid these kinds of road hazards.
Driving through the mountains can be fun, and it can be safe too when you follow the tips on this list.