Mountain Driving

Whether you're trying to negotiate a mountain or a molehill, most current roads that cut through elevated terrain are largely smooth and present little risk. Since the most frequently traveled mountain roads are Interstate highways, few advanced skills are necessary to maneuver the highways' gentle curves and inclines. Before you navigate these long and winding roads, however, head straight to the mountain driving tips below.

When driving on a hill, avoid driving crosswise or turning on steep slopes. You could lose traction and slip sideways. Drive straight up, straight down, or avoid the hill completely. Know the conditions on the other side of a hill before driving over the crest. When climbing a steep hill, start in a lower gear rather than downshifting to a lower gear from a higher gear once the ascent has started. This reduces strain on the engine and the possibility of stalling.

Observe all posted speed limits on curves, inclines, declines and straight-aways. Avoid riding the brake when travelling down steep grades. If you're driving a manual vehicle, shift to a low gear before beginning your descent to allow your engine to slow your vehicle.

Escalating temperatures and increased gasoline volatility can lead to engine failure. This can happen at any altitude and is called a "vapor lock." Pull over to a secure, clearly visible place and allow the engine to cool.

Be mindful of vehicles behind you when hauling a trailer or driving a heavy recreational vehicle up a long mountain slope. Pull over and let other vehicles pass whenever safe and possible.

Most roads that are particularly winding or hilly are clearly marked as such. Still, before your mountain trip, plan your route and be confident that your camper, vehicle-trailer combination or RV can handle your chosen route.

On all mountain roads (but especially on curves), staying to the right is imperative. Don't be worried about a cliff that seems too close to your wheels. If a nearby cliff posed any extraordinary threat, then the road would be closed.