Tag Archives: safe driving

Down Grade Ahead!

By Heather Hogland & Kim Grimm

Down Grade Ahead!- As they say, what goes up must come down! That is so true, especially when it comes to mountain grades. We cannot say it enough, you only get one chance to start down a mountain in the right gear! As they say, what goes up must come down! That is so true, especially when it comes to mountain grades. We cannot say it enough, you only get one chance to start down a mountain in the right gear! You need to make sure you do it in the proper gear for the weight you are carrying and the grade you are descending.

Grades are based on a decline of 1%, in other words for every 100 feet of road surface there is a drop of 1 foot. Using this formula, an 8% grade means that the road surface drops 8 feet for every 100 feet of travel over the distance posted. If the sign reads 8% grade 6 miles then it means that for the entire 6 miles that road will lose 8 feet of elevation per 100 feet of travel. In other words, you had better pay attention! Take it seriously.

I was recently on a two-lane road in Ohio. Imagine my surprise when I came upon a sign on a truck route I was following from my first drop to my second, which said 17% grade! Yes, 17%! This stretch of road is between I-271 and I-71. It is Highway 303 south and east of Cleveland and thank goodness it was almost midnight so there was no traffic. Headed east, I was going up the ‘hill’ and had to drop about 3 gears. I can’t imagine driving that road in the winter.

Actually, I have been on the steepest grades in my career on two-lane roads in eastern states like Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and New York. In the western states the steepest grades are oftentimes on those two-lane roads. Wolf Creek Pass immediately comes to mind, as well as running I-395 all the way from north to south. The narrow two-lane roads are not traveled as often these days by large trucks, but take all precautions when planning to use them. They do still have those large grades and sharp curves. Many times, at least out west, there will be signs saying large trucks are ‘not recommended’ which means you CAN use the road, but maybe you SHOULDN’T. Just a thought from a couple of experienced ladies who have BOTH taken Highway 198 between Highway 101 and I-5 in California at different times!

Sometimes these two-lane roads have run-offs or escape ramps ‘just in case’ you lose your brakes, some don’t. Also, always be aware there is probably a town a stop sign or a signal light at the bottom. I remember crossing Highway 166 in Maricopa, California and coming down a 7% grade where there was a stop sign at the bottom; so be aware! (California seems especially adept at putting towns or scales or signal lights at the most inappropriate places!)

Sometimes if you can understand exactly what the posted sign is telling you, it becomes much clearer WHY you need to follow the direction. When we started driving, there weren’t a lot of mentors around for us to get this information from and it is our goal to be able to be a resource for all of you.

Down Grade Ahead!- As they say, what goes up must come down! That is so true, especially when it comes to mountain grades. We cannot say it enough, you only get one chance to start down a mountain in the right gear! Drivers expect to find steep grades in the mountain ranges out west, but we hope to make new drivers aware to be on the lookout for steep grades everywhere! The little orange/yellow diamond shaped sign with the little truck going down a grade is universal, it is used everywhere you will be travelling and will include the % of the upcoming grade. Heed the warning!

Stay Safe Out There and Keep It Shiny!


 Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Top Tips for Safe Driving

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Defensive driving knows no season, we must always be on top of our game when it comes to this! Bad roads and conditions don’t end when the snow stops flying. Spring brings a new set of weather conditions to deal with, today we have better forecasts than in days gone by, so always heed warnings of severe weather. Blinding snow and fog are not the only things that can bring conditions to zero visibility, driving rain, smoke, blowing dust or sand and rain wrapped tornado force winds all can lead to conditions that take road speeds from 65 to completely stopped in a matter of seconds.

For new drivers, hopefully most of this has been covered in class or during training, for those of you that aren’t new, a little refresher won’t hurt. Considering the wrecks we’ve been seeing lately, a reminder to ourselves is definitely in order.

Distractions while driving are the subject of many conversations these days. We can only hope you all take this seriously and follow the laws, the only vehicle we can control is the one we are driving. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and when you get behind the wheel, you are the captain of the ship.  You are in charge of your vehicle’s safe operation and in a big truck, that is a BIG responsibility. Some days, thousands of lives are in our hands as they pass by us, or we them. Every vehicle we encounter could be a potential accident and life altering event.

STAY ATop Tips for Safe Driving- Defensive driving knows no season, we must always be on top of our game when it comes to this! Bad roads and conditions don’t end when the snow stops flying. Spring brings a new set of weather conditions to deal with, today we have better forecasts than in days gone by, so always heed warnings of severe weather.LERT. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, especially on a long, lonely stretch of road late at night when you get tired, or bored, or things at home get to you. Your mind has to be constantly working, anticipating what other vehicles may do, your eyes moving, always moving from mirror to road to mirror, and back again. ALWAYS leave yourself an out, “just in case”.

Following too close seems to be a problem of late. Keeping a safe following distance when so many trucks are governed to run the same speed is a difficult task at best but add hills, weight, wind and gearing to the equation and you can end up with true mayhem. Traffic backs up when one truck tries to pass another running barely faster until he tries to break past the wind the first truck is cutting for him, then it becomes a tug of war between them. They are virtually running the same speed, SOMEBODY has to give up and back out, nobody is going to win this battle. It will just create road rage for everyone behind you. Either back out of it and let the other guy in front of you (if you’re in the right lane) or back out of it and fall behind the truck you can’t pass (if you’re in the left). BUT, in this case, with traffic backing up behind you, the SAFEST thing to do would be for the truck in the right lane to ease up and let the left lane truck over so traffic can pass more efficiently. Just sayin’…

Some maneuvers, like starting down a big mountain, getting off on a steep ramp, or going into a into a sharp curve, only give you one chance to get it right. These places are usually clearly posted with warning signs for reduced speeds telling you of the hazard ahead. When these signs are white, they are required by law, they are not suggestions, they mean business and there is no doubt there are serious consequences for not obeying them, for good reason. Lives are at risk, all our lives.

Going into a curve or an off ramp too fast can quickly put you on your side, once the tipping starts there’s not much left to do but hang on. Something to remember too, if your load is loaded high inside your trailer it becomes top heavy, causing a higher center of gravity. In this case, you would be wise to slow down even more than posted for that ramp or curve.

With the changes in gearing and governing of trucks today, the old rule of using the same gear coming down the hill you used to top the hill no longer holds true. Learning which gear you need to be in for which hill you’re descending is all part of learning your truck. Starting off in too low a gear would be much better than too high a gear since todays trucks operate on such low RPMs. It would be much more difficult to slow down enough to get your road-speed slow enough to get your RPMs low enough to grab a lower gear.

As visibility decreases, so should our speed. I never drive faster than I can see. Slow down and back off the vehicle in front of you. It seems as if mega wrecks are becoming more common. It’s time we take out our common sense and use it!

Stay Safe Out There & Keep It Shiny!


 Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.