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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Techniques and Tips for Driving in the New York Mountains

Defensive Driving TechniquesIf you're thinking about taking a drive up through the mountains this year, then what's holding you back? Driving around the mountains can be an invigorating and exciting experience, so there's no reason why people shouldn't be going for a drive today, but before you do there are a few things you should know in order to make any mountain drive an enjoyable but safe experience.

First of all, always ensure that your car is in top condition. This includes your brakes, heater, defroster, windshield wipers and your exhaust system. Make sure that your transmissions fluids are filled and have been appropriately changed within the recommended time frame for your car. Also, be sure to check the tread on your tires and ensure that they are properly inflated. Tires that are inflated correctly will not only make your driving safer, but it will also save you money on gas.

One handy tip when it comes to mountain driving is to avoid going down a hill any faster than you can go up it. The temptation on hills can be strong, and you may find your foot creeping onto the gas, but few people realize that using heavy breaks doesn't do your vehicle that much good either. Instead of breaking violently on steep hills, try down shifting. The only time you should be putting your foot on the break is to slow for a gear change. Always resist the temptation of zooming down a hill; this is not only better for your car, but you also can never be sure what's at the bottom of the hill, especially if there's a bend in the road.

When it comes to driving uphill, be sure to downshift where possible to a lower gear, and keep a close eye on the temperature of your engine. If it begins to overheat, immediately turn off your air conditioning in order to reduce some of the heat. If you want to cool your engine completely, the best thing to do is to find a safe place to pull completely off the road, park and keep the car at a fast idle. Don't shut off the engine, and never remove the radiator cap, as this is very hot. Unusually, the best way to cool an engine is to turn on the heater, but this can often be unpleasant for the driver, so it might be best to park and take a break.

A growing trend among mountain drivers is what's known as 'hugging' the center line. It is well known that mountain roads can be a lot narrower than your average highway, and it's because of this that some drivers have the tendency to 'hug', or drive very closely, to the center line. This may seem perfectly harmless, but this way of driving can be very unwise and very frustrating for others driving. The danger of doing this is that should you encounter another driver coming from the opposite direction, also hugging the center line, then you are both potentially at risk of danger of crashing.

Bare in mind your car may not perform as well at 5,000 ft as it does at ground level, so always allow enough time for passing vehicles to make it back to their lane, especially if traveling over hills, remember that the car traveling uphill should always be given the right of way. Also, never get impatient with drivers who are driving slowly, they may be struggling up a hill, or even just admiring the scenery. This is all acceptable road behavior as long as awareness is always maintained. If you wish to admire the views, but there are 3 cars or over forms behind you, it's advisable you pull over and let them pass, as in some states, driving in this way can result in traffic tickets.

Always check the local weather and road conditions wherever you may be driving around in order to ensure your drive is as safe as can be. By doing this you can check any issue that may affect your driving.

If you are traveling along unpaved roads, you will encounter a lot less traction than usual, so make sure you tackle these kinds of road with a slow speed, and take curves wider than you usually would. Finally, make sure you inform people of when you are leaving and when you are likely to return, so in the event that you should not return home, somebody will know quickly in order to take the appropriate action fast.

And finally, have fun! The main reason you've gone out for a drive is to relax, have fun, and see some beautiful scenery from high up in the mountains. By doing this safely, you're ensuring your trip will be memorable for the right reasons.

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Posted by NSC - Traffic Safety at 2 Comments


Anonymous Addison Raymond said...

Lots of good information! One thing that people forget about is how a car will drive differently at altitude. Thinner air will diminish your power, be careful when passing.

April 12, 2010 at 6:43 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful information!

May 8, 2010 at 3:22 PM 

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