One of the best things about driving a truck is seeing different places and getting paid for it. Most people wake up each morning in the same room at the same time in the same place, but drivers get to wake up in the best places in the country. Think about it everyday you could wake up with a different view outside of your window. If you have ever woken up to see the majestic mountains in front of you, or a beautiful sunrise off the beach in Florida you will know what I mean. Getting to those beautiful places can be challenge and something that takes skill to achieve.
As a professional driver you will encounter mountain driving along your routes at some point in your career. We often think of mountains only in the western part of the country, but you will find them in the East as well. Mountain driving can be required at any time so being ready and knowledgeable on what to do can save your life. Proper trip planning is imperative to avoid mountain driving when possible and be prepared when that isn’t possible.
When things go wrong, they can go really wrong! In my twenty five years of driving I have seen the odd truck in a runaway ramp. I have seen video footage of trucks using runaway ramps, and I have seen my share of burning brakes. Even on video it can be mesmerizing to see a truck in trouble. A video popped up on my social media channel the other day that caught my attention.
A truck had already been past the point where the brakes were overheating and smoking. A police car with the sirens on were following the truck trying to keep other motorists out the truck’s path. The driver is doing his best to keep the truck from hitting other vehicles and you can see that it is picking up speed at an incredible rate. The brakes continue to smoke and they eventually break into flames. The truck picks up more speed and it gets hard for me to tear myself away from the video even though I know there are only two options available to this driver. He is now going so fast that he moves to the left lane as other motorists are staying to the right due to the police siren. I continue to watch and then it happens, the driver sees the runaway ramp and heads to the right side of the roadway. At this point the dirt and debris fill the screen as the truck is engulfed and sinks in the ramp’s gravel and sand. The load and truck are scattered as the truck breaks apart. At this point all I can do is look for the driver and hope he is all right. We see an arm, a head, and then eventually he frees himself and it looks like he is in good health.
The general rule is that you stay in the same gear as you used to climb the mountain to descend the mountain. That is fine on smaller hills but hard to do on long mountain grades. Patience comes into play here and many drivers don’t remain in the same gear. This is especially true for those that are not used to mountain driving. Proper training is the first step and being a student for your whole career will help you to learn improved techniques for driving. Get proper training up front and get advice from more experienced drivers if your trip takes you through mountains to your destination. TTSAO certified training is a good place to start.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com