Tips for Navigating Mountain Roads Safely

mountain roadsWe live in the mountain west, and it is beautiful, but if you want to see it you had better be able to get there. Follow our tips for navigating mountain roads safely.

Make Sure Your Safety Systems Are in Good Repair

Do not embark on any journey, especially a dangerous mountain road one, if your key safety systems are not in good repair. Mountain driving requires good tires, working brakes, and a reliable transmission. If you are unsure if your vehicle can make the trip, take your car in for a tune up before you head for the hills. Accidents on rural roads are more often fatal than those on urban streets.

Do Not Go Down Mountain Roads Faster than You Can Go Up Them

It may seem fun to use those downhill slopes to increase your velocity, but it is dangerous. You may also want to ride your brakes. Do not do that either. Instead, shift into “2” or “L” if your vehicle has an automatic transmission, and stay in a lower gear if it’s a manual. This will allow the slowing power from your engine to slow the car down. When you do need to use your brakes, apply them firmly to slow the car quickly, since riding your brakes could cause them to overheat and fail. Once you’re on level ground, shift back into drive and use your brakes normally.

The Vehicle Going Uphill Should Be Given the Right of Way

In narrow mountain passes you may have to move over to allow another vehicle to pass. Remember that that vehicle going uphill has the right of way. If you are headed downhill, let the vehicle coming at you go first.

Watch for Wildlife

The mountains are home to deer, elk, bears, moose, wolves, birds, squirrels, bison, cougars and more. Keep an eye out for wildlife. Sometimes these critters try to cross the road. You do not want to hit them. Being alert could save you from a serious accident.

Do Not Attempt to Pass on a Curve

Sometimes on a rural road you are allowed to go around the vehicle in front of you using the oncoming lane to pass. Never pass on a curve. The road should be painted to prevent this, but if it is not, remember that it is never safe to pass on a curve. You cannot see oncoming traffic, and they cannot see you.

Limit Distractions

You should never drive distracted. It is always dangerous, but driving while distracted is especially dangerous on mountain roads since they can be narrow with steep edges. If you veer off because you are looking at your phone or yelling at your passengers, you could flip your vehicle or drive off a cliff. Stay alert, and limit your distractions. Put your phone down. Ignore the people in the back seat.

Stay on the Road

When you are driving in the mountains, stay on marked roads and parking lots. It might seem fun to take a spontaneous trek and start off-roading, but it is probably illegal if you do not own the land or have permission from the land owner. Off-roading also damages the landscape. If you are driving in a national or state-protected wilderness area do not drive your vehicle off the road or outside marked parking lots.

If you want to stop and take a break or a photograph, pull over and stop in designated spots along the road.

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