Semi-trucks consist of a tractor and trailer. The trailer is loaded with load to transport it to another place. They travel to highways, mountains, or rocky areas.
Can You Drive a Semi-Truck in Mountains? Driving a semi-truck can be challenging in the mountains, but following safety tips can prevent all the issues. Inspect the engine, brakes, and tires before starting. Check the grade percentage of the road chain up the tires and use downshift gears.
Driving a truck uphill is less dangerous than going downhill in the mountains. However, the mental alertness of the driver is essential in both cases. The trucker should take frequent breaks to rest while driving in these areas. Semi-trucks with automatic transmissions have various features that facilitate driving in hilly areas.
Is it safe to drive semi-trucks in the mountains?
Semi-trucks are large vehicles that are different from other automobiles. The size and weight of such a big vehicle make it difficult to drive. Driving it in the mountains is even more dangerous and challenging for the truckers.
The mountains have curvy roads, steep grades, and unpredictable weather conditions. These conditions threaten the safety of the driver and the truck. Driving on curvy roads can cause the vehicle to lose traction, and the driver can not control the vehicle’s speed.
Snow, rain, and fog can cause the driver to lose clear visibility while driving. It can cause accidents to happen on these steep-grade roads.
But proper training and knowledge about safety tips and precautions while driving in the mountains can avoid all the problems.
Safety tips to follow while driving a semi-truck in the mountains
A semi-truck driver should get all the training before entering a hilly area. The trucking company is responsible for making the required training mandatory for all truckers.
Inspect the semi-truck
Your truck should be functioning correctly while driving in hilly areas. You should ensure that all parts are functional. Check the fuel tank and refill it before starting your journey.
Check its engine and braking system. In case of any fault, fix the issue to avoid road problems.
Check the air pressure in the tires and inflate them before hitting the road. You should also have an emergency kit with you that includes flashlights, radios, batteries, and food.
Check the road grade
The grade of the road is the measure of its inclined or slopes in it. It refers to the amount of fall or rise in the given distance on roads.
The roads in hilly areas have steep grades. It means you will see rise and fall along the road frequently. A mountainous road can have a grade percentage of more than 10%. The grade signs are displayed throughout the road in these areas.
You should check the grade sign while driving on such roads. You can not judge the steepness just by looking at the roads. Checking the grades will help the drivers to select the gears and vehicle speed accordingly.
Install the tire chains
Weather in the hilly areas can change abruptly. You can not predict the weather conditions by checking the weather forecast. Ice on the roads can cause the vehicle to lose traction.
It can cause the truck to hydroplane or jackknife in between the road. Using tire chains can protect the vehicle from such troubles. Tire or snow chains are wrapped around the tires to increase the traction on the road.
These chains dig up in the ice to increase the truck’s stability on the road. Chain up all the tires on the tractor and trailer to get traction on the snowy road. Use high-quality chains to tackle the wet road.
Use proper gear shift
A semi-truck has more than ten gears, and each one of them is for a different purpose. Selecting the correct gear in the mountains is one of the most challenging tasks.
Selecting the wrong gear shift can cause accidents on steep-grade roads. You should choose the proper gear shift for up-hilling and descending.
Use down-shift gears while up-hilling and avoid using high-gear shifts in such conditions. Using higher gear causes the truck to come to a complete stop.
It will be a troublesome situation for drivers behind the semi-trailer. When descending a mountain, use one gear lower than that used in going uphill.
It is better to downshift the gear before going downhill to prevent the engine from stalling. Try to keep the engine cool by turning on the engine fan.
Use brakes with caution
Do not engage the service brakes while going uphill or descending from a mountain. Using a service brake can cause overheating, and they won’t be able to stop the vehicle quickly. Engage the Jake brakes in these conditions to prevent any problems.
Jake brakes are compression-release brakes that are also called engine brakes. They help in applying the brakes swiftly in hilly areas. They also prevent the service brake and tires from wearing out quickly. It can cause the truck to skid or hydroplane.
You should also avoid tailgating. It can cause the semi-trailer to collide with some other vehicle that is moving at a slower speed.
Patience is the key to preventing all unnecessary tensions. You should not accelerate the truck on the curvy roads.
Always lower the speed and go slow on these roads. These roads have blind curves that can be difficult to manage.
Speeding up on the end of the road is the real culprit behind all the accidents in these hilly areas. Speeding up around a sharp curve can cause the semi-truck to lose control, and you can tip over easily. Turn on the hazardous lights to warn all the vehicles behind you.
Use runway lanes
Regardless of all the safety measures, mishaps can still happen. But runways are present in the mountains as a last resort to save us from trouble. These lanes are specially constructed to facilitate the vehicle getting down.
It is better to use runway lanes if your vehicle is losing control or applying brakes is also ineffective. They can keep the vehicle and drive safe. They can land the vehicle in soft sand to let it come to a stop.
But it can cause damage to the undercarriage of the semi-truck. But it will be safe from other problems. All these safety tips will help you efficiently drive in the mountains.