9 Truck Driving Tips For Mountain Roads: Safe Practices

Our truck driving tips for mountain roads will help you stay safe when you have a shipment that will take you on one of these remote routes.


Jacob Lee
June 24, 2022
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Truck driving tips for mountain roads are essential when you’re hauling freight through rugged terrain at high elevations Truck driving is extremely dangerous on its own and when you throw mountain terrain into the mix, you have the recipe for what can become a disaster. Fortunately, there are plenty of safety practices that you can employ to keep yourself in one piece.

The truck driving tips for mountain roads that we recommend you follow include:

  • Maintain a slow and steady speed
  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles
  • Don’t underestimate hills and slopes
  • Check your brakes
  • Fill up on gas before your journey
  • Pack an emergency kit
  • Use a runaway ramp when needed

We’ll go over these truck driving tips for mountain roads and others so you can maintain driver safety no matter where you’re hauling your next load. 

1. Maintain A Slow and Steady Speed

When you’re driving up in the mountains, keeping a slow and steady speed isn’t just recommended, it’s essential. Many of the roads that you’ll encounter in mountains are often narrow and filled with all kinds of sharp turns. If you’re flying through the mountains at high speeds, you’ll only be putting yourself and the freight you’re hauling at risk. 

Our article on winter driving tips can also help determine how to drive in the cold. 

2. Keep A Safe Distance From Other Vehicles

If you’ve ever been tailgated by another driver, semi or otherwise, then you likely know how annoying that experience is. Up on mountain roads, tailgating is more dangerous than it is annoying. 

When driving in a mountainous environment, you’ll need as much reaction time as possible. Tailgating another driver will eliminate your ability to react in time when a driver brakes suddenly or when going down a hill. 

3. Don’t Underestimate Hills, Slopes and Curved Roads

An important truck mountain driving safety precaution to take is to not underestimate hills and slopes. Even if you let off the break and let yourself coast down the hill, chances are you won’t be slow down to a safe speed as fast as you would like. 

At the bottom of the hill or slope, there could be a stop light or sharp turn. Not being able to brake in time could mean disaster for you and anyone else at the bottom. Instead, you should maintain a consistent speed while you go down a hill or slope. 

Curved roads are probably the most dangerous part of driving through the mountains. Turns are often sharp and uncomfortable to make. You’re not always going to know what’s at the end until you get there. While driving at a slow and steady speed is a sure way to stay safe going around turns, we stress that you maintain caution and alertness when taking on curved roads. 

4. Check Your Brakes

You’ll be using your brakes frequently when traveling on mountain roads. Before your journey even begins, every truck driver should check the health of their service brakes. Something as simple as one of your brakes getting out of adjustment could place extra work on the others, causing them to age much faster. Mountain travel is so rigorous that you should also check your brakes after your journey has ended. 

5. Use Tire Chains

Two semi-trucks not using tire chains as suggested by our truck driving tips for mountain roads

Another important mountain driving tip for truck drivers is to use tire chains. Ice and snow will prevent your tires from getting good traction on the road. This makes spinning out and having an accident a higher likelihood. 

Using tire chains will allow you to cut through the ice and snow, allowing you to maintain better traction while driving. Before your journey, it’s important that you find the best type of tire chain for your truck.  

6. Fill Up On Gas

Filling up on gas is always an important preparation for a truck driver. However, it’s especially important to do so before heading up into the mountains. As you can imagine, there aren’t a lot of places to stop and refuel if you need it. Should you run out, you’re going to be stranded out there in the mountains for a while. Getting fuel, even if it’s only a small amount, will ensure that you can make it through the terrain without running empty. 

7. Pack An Emergency Kit

Some mountains include pretty remote areas that don’t have many people around to help you right away if you get into a bind. Additionally, if you’re traveling through the mountains during the winter, you’ll be in a tough spot if you break down and end up stranded. 

To prepare for this possibility, you should be sure to pack an emergency kit. This emergency kit should contain essentials like:

  • Non-perishable food
  • Water
  • Road flares
  • Batteries
  • Flashlight 
  • CB Radios

These truck driver essentials will help stay healthy, find your way in the dark and even communicate with other people in the distance when you’re in distress. For more tips on tractor-trailer breakdown services, check out our article about the topic. 

8. Take Advantage Of Runaway Truck Ramps

A runaway ramp on a mountain road

Driving safely is obviously the best way to avoid danger and prevent accidents. All the same, accidents can happen on mountain roads, especially if there’s ice on them. That’s why so many mountain roads have runaway lanes that drivers can merge onto. Don’t be afraid to use these lanes in case you ever find yourself in a position where you can no longer control your truck as you go down a hill. 

9. Watch Weather Forecasts before Your Trip

Check weather forecasts before starting down a route that will take you through the mountains. The load you’re hauling needs to reach its destination regardless of the weather and challenges you face. 

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check what type of weather you’ll encounter during your journey through the mountains. This preparation will give you an idea of how you should drive through the area before you get there. 

Need more safety tips? Check out our articles on driving at night, driving in rainy weather, and driving in the summer!

Get the Respect You Deserve At ABCO

If you feel that your hard work as a driver hasn’t been appreciated by other trucking companies you’ve worked for, we guarantee that at ABCO, it will be. ABCO drivers have an extremely flexible schedule. This allows our drivers to have a healthy work and personal life balance. 

Our drivers also have opportunity to spend their off time at remote resorts located around the country and have access to competitive pay and top benefits.

Start your journey with ABCO by filling out your application today.  

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