Road-Tripping In The Hills? Here's How You Can Ensure a Safe Drive
Come summer, many people head to the hills for a much-needed break from the sweltering heat. If you are planning to take your own vehicle to a hill station, here are some tips to ensure a safe drive.
This cannot be more important. Don’t be a ‘leadfoot’. If you crave the thrill of zooming at 100 kph, hit an expressway in the plains. Speeding is dangerous on mountain roads. Whether you are going up or down, gravity can work against you. A good rule to follow on mountain roads is to descend at the same speed you go up, and drive below the speed limit on curves.
Brakes suffer the most on mountain roads. Make sure – and then check again – to see if your brakes are functioning properly. Top up the brake fluid if levels are low. If you haven’t changed the fluid in a while, you will be well advised to do so before you embark on your journey. Avoid riding the brake pedal constantly; use engine braking to regulate speed.
Brakes are extremely important but you also need to make sure the rest of the car is fit and fine. So take it to the garage for a complete check-up before you set out. Have your tires checked for wear and tear, top up the air pressure, and check for any bald/flat spots. Fill fuel from a reliable gas station. In short, check everything on your vehicle so you don’t end up stranded en route.
If you belong to the PRD (park, reverse, drive) school of drivers, you should practise changing gears. You will need to upshift and downshift frequently on mountain roads. Going uphill too fast will heat up your engine. Slow down as you approach a descent and gently nudge your brakes to avoid slipping. Remember, vehicles going up have right of way. Oh, and foot off the clutch pedal please.
Avoiding fatigue is very important to ensure a safe drive. Use pit stops for more than taking a loo break, and take them frequently. Stop only at spots where the road is wide and you can pull into the shoulder. And don’t just sit in your vehicle; get out and stretch your legs. If the spot is scenic, stay a while to take in the view. If there’s a restaurant or cafe, have a hot cup of tea or coffee. After a long tiring journey through Ghats, you can have comfortable stay at any of our hill station resorts in Coorg, Wayanad, Mahabaleshwar and many more spread across top holiday destinations in India.
As if serpentine roads weren’t challenging enough, you could also encounter bad weather on mountain roads. Check the weather report while planning the trip and just before you set off. If there’s even a hint of heavy rain or dense fog, reconsider. Even a light mist calls for a great deal of caution while driving. Fog lamps (if legal in the state) might help with low visibility.
Defensive driving is applicable not just in city traffic, but in the hills as well. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you and pass it only if you can see well ahead. Rash overtaking can put you or the other vehicle at risk of going over the edge or a scrape as you hug the mountain wall. Always keep an eye on your rear-view mirror, and let those in a hurry pass you if there’s room.