Driving to the mountains is what most of us love to do during weekends and especially during winter months to enjoy the season’s first snow fall. There are certain dos and don’ts that you need to know if you’re planning for a weekend getaway to taste the pristine chill of the Himalayan highlands or the beautiful Western Ghats. Here are some of the main points that one should keep in mind-
1. Check-ups: Ahead of any journey, make sure that the vehicle is in good shape. This includes checking lubricant as well as coolant levels. Tires should be checked for damage and /or slow punctures.
2. Use that horn: Driving in the hills is tricky. Hence, always proceed with caution. Numerous blind turns litter the road. So, honk before entering a corner and likewise, while overtaking a slow moving vehicle, a gentle beep helps alert the driver ahead of the manoeuvre.
3. Keep it left: Follow the easy hill rule of sticking to the left lane and you will be safe. No matter how blind a curve is, even if you are at speeds but stay in your lane, you will be safe. Notice what local hill drivers do and follow the same.
4. The thumb rule: If the road is very narrow, the thumb rule says that vehicles going uphill have the right of way- always keep this in mind. Even if you have to reverse, do so.
5. Watch your speed: Never drive down a slope in neutral gear. Keep the car in gear while driving down and use engine braking. Most accidents happen due to over-speeding in a ghat section as drivers fail to control the vehicle. Similarly, never shut-down the engine as this shuts down the hydraulics and electricals – steering and brakes might not work in most cars.
6. Night tips: If you need to drive at night in hills, never use high beams – this can blind the on-coming traffic. While overtaking other cars, it is advised to flick the high beam stalk a couple of times to alert the driver ahead.
7. Stay safe: Keep a safe distance from heavy vehicles, especially on inclines. These can easily stall and roll back – hence be safe and keep atleast a 4-5 car length distance.
8. Parking needs: Incase you need to park on hilly roads, do so by the side of the road without occupying much of the road. Put on the hazard lights and make sure the car is in gear (not neutral) with the hand brake pulled.
Inputs by- Bunny Punia, Associate Editor, Gaadi.com
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