Driving a commercial or owner operator truck through the mountains isn’t the same as vacationing in the mountains with your car. For one thing, you can’t pick the time of year with the best weather. For another, the commercial or owner operator truck driver has to haul a big heavy trailer, which together with the tractor, can weight up to 80,000 pounds.
On steep upgrades, you have to worry about not overheating your engine. Steep downgrades will have you worrying about overheating brakes and about the safety of yourself and your rig. Then there’s the twisting roads and the unpredictable weather, which can change quickly with your altitude. The point is, hauling freight through the mountains is always demanding, no matter how much experience you have. Here are three mountain driving tips for commercial or owner operator truck drivers:
Be Prepared before Reaching the Downgrade
You want your rig in the right gear and moving at the right speed before reaching the downgrade. Don’t wait until your commercial or owner operator truck has picked up too much speed before downshifting and braking. It places more strain on your engine and brakes. If you get stuck in neutral on the downgrade, you will have to brake all the way down, which may overheat your brakes.
Never Apply Steady Braking
Never apply steady braking while going downhill. This doesn’t allow your brakes to cool off. Even light steady braking in a low gear will overheat your brakes. Instead, use a technique called snub braking. While in a low gear, apply steady braking that is hard enough to slow you down 5 mph slower than the maximum safe speed for the grade. Then let up on the brakes and allow your commercial or owner operator truck to speed up until it reaches the maximum safe speed again, and then repeat the process. This method allows the brakes to cool as you go downhill.
Be Ready for Sudden Weather Changes
Weather can change for the worse as you increase your altitude. Rain at the bottom of a mountain pass often turns into snow or sleet higher up. Fair weather at the bottom of a pass doesn’t guaranty good weather at the top. Mountain ranges in some parts of the country will get afternoon thunderstorms that appear like clockwork every day during the summer.
In addition, make sure your rig and its brakes are in good condition, and bring water, food, and emergency gear. Get the proper coverage with the right insurance carrier. If you are looking for commercial or owner operator truck insurance in South Carolina, feel free to contact us.