Driving away to mountains or nearby hills is an increasingly popular ‘long-weekend’ activity. But, unless you are well-versed with the ins and outs of mountain driving, it can be risky. So here are five simple things you can do to keep yourself—and others on the road—safe.
You have to slow down every time you hit a turn—and there are lots of them. Using brakes frequently heats them and reduces their effectiveness. Further, once they start heating, they are prone to catching fire. Instead of brakes, you can use engine braking. Just slot your car in a lower gear which will increase the revs of your engine and will decrease the speed of the car slowly.Downshifting will take some load off from your brakes,keeping them sharp for when they might be needed most.
Mountain roads are full of ‘blind turns’ where you and the oncoming traffic cannot spot each other till it’s too late. The simple solution is to always stay in your lane. Steering on mountain roads can be tiring with a turn every few meters, which makes the prospect of ‘cutting in’ ever so slightly into the ‘opposite lane’ tempting while on the turn. Avoid this at all costs. If you are tiring, take a break.
No overtaking on turns
On twisty mountain roads, it is, at times, impossible to spot oncoming traffic on the turns. Overtaking in such circumstances can be dangerous. One, your speed is high, and two, you might be in parallel to the car you are passing, leaving no space at all for a vehicle coming from the opposite direction. Attempt over-taking only on a ‘straight’ stretch or when the orientation of the ‘turn’ is such that you can see oncoming traffic.
Hold on to a gear
Most of the people upshift early because of the better fuel efficiency and also because they are used to shift soon. This is not a good practice when driving in the hills. When you upshift, the engine revs fall, which means the power and torque output also falls and on hills, you need this power and torque for the climb. Also, in hilly areas, the air is thin when compared to the city areas. So, when the gear is upshifted, the engine has to work harder because of the shortage of air. If you hold on to gear, your car will stay in its power band and that will help in climbing the inclines.
On hilly areas, you have to predict which gear will be the most suitable for the road that lies ahead. Shifting gears during a turn or hairpin can be very dangerous because your car might stall or lose power while you are mid-way in turn. If you see that there is a steep incline in front of you, then downshift. This will increase the revs of your engine and you will be near the power-band of your rev-range. It will help your car to reach its max power and peak torque much sooner while you are on the incline and the chances of your car stalling will decrease.
These are the five important tips that you should follow while driving on the mountain roads. Use your horn when you want to announce your arrival, carry a basic kit and, most importantly, be patient.