There is no denying the fact that the hilly areas are full of scenic sights almost everywhere. Adding to that, the pleasant chilly atmosphere itself is enough motivation for people to pack up and embark on a road trip to their neighboring hill stations. But what most of these people don’t realize is that driving on the hills demand a separate etiquette. It is a totally different ball game than driving in the flat plain areas. The sad part is that a majority of people are completely unaware of this fact. This, in turn, can lead to disastrous outcomes in the form of accidents. So here, we will take a look at some of the essential car driving tips that are of paramount importance for driving in the hills. Share these pointers with your relatives and friends as well so that they are also well-prepared during their excursions.
Overtaking in the hills is very tricky and needs to be done with at most caution. The most important thing to keep in mind is NEVER ever attempt an overtaking maneuver in the middle of turns. Always wait for the longer and wider straight sections. Often the roads will only have two lanes out of which only one is for you to use. So, ensure that the lane beside you is also empty at the beginning of the stretch itself.
Patience is key here. If you are unsure you’ll find the lane beside you to be empty, no problem. Wait it out and attempt to overtake once you certainly know it’s empty. The overtaking procedure is pretty much standard, honk the horn, flash the high beams, use the turn signals indicating the lane you are changing to and complete the maneuver in one smooth sequence.
Your car has a wonderful device called the gearbox which will help you the most on hilly roads. While moving uphill, gravity is working against you by making you go slower. It is best to stay in a lower gear where the torque output will be maximum. For the downhill section, a lot of people have this misconception that they can stay in neutral and coast away. This is a very dangerous thing to do as gears also act as speed modifiers and can give you that extra bit of stopping power when necessary. For the downhill section, you can stay a gear higher than an uphill section. Gravity is also helping you in this case so you don’t need a mountain load of torque. Having an extra gear in hand also gives you room for engine braking which really comes in handy on such roads.
The usefulness of road signs is really underestimated by drivers. In the hilly areas, road signs provide you with all the important communications of the road ahead. Hillside roads are narrow, very unpredictable and somewhat dangerous too. So, in such places, you will never be able to predict that the docile looking turn ahead of you leads into an unexpected incline. But if you were vigilant enough to observe the inclined ‘road ahead’ sign before the turn, you will be prepared in advance. Therefore, be sure to observe road signs and keep the presence of mind to react accordingly in time.
Hairpin bends are the most difficult types of turns to tackle on hilly roads. But if you know the right technique, you can do so with ease and with peace of mind. The key rule for turning through a hairpin bend is to always slow down, be it uphill or downhill. When you are going uphill, slow down before the turn, shift down to a lower gear and accelerate through the turn. A very important point to remember here is that you need to be highly observant if any car is coming from above.
For downhill, again slow down before the turn and take your foot off the accelerator. Gravity is assisting you so you don’t need any extra output from the car. Take the turn while modulating only the brakes if necessary and punch the accelerator after you have taken the turn. It’s much easier to spot oncoming vehicles while moving downhill so that’s not going to be much of a problem.
As a general rule, any vehicle moving uphill always has the right of way. But above that, buses, trucks, or any heavy vehicles in any situation always have the right of way. The problem with heavy vehicles is their turning radius and their brakes. They need to go really wide to execute turns and their brakes are often not very effective because of their weight. In case a big vehicle is approaching you, it’s best to move to the side and give it way. Blocking its path can potentially drag you into a mishap so best will be to avoid that on the whole.
The hills are indeed the most beautiful places to go for a weekend retreat and unwind. However, reaching there in a safe and comfortable manner demands a slight extra effort over your innate driving skills. We hope these essential driving tips will prove useful to you for your next journey. HAPPY TRIPPING!