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Safety Rules for Mountain Driving


California vehicle code 21662 states that all drivers must maintain control of their vehicle and sound their horns to alert other drivers of their presence when there are obstructions in front of them.

We at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys encourage safe travel while driving in the mountains and want you to be aware of some general safety tips to follow when driving in the mountains.

1. Make sure your vehicle is in working condition. Brakes, wipers, horns, lights, and transmissions should be in good working order. Make sure you have checked and filled all fluids before your trip including brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant/anti-freeze, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Your car can easily overheat or get dirty while traveling in the mountains and you should make sure your car is road-worthy.

2. Never drive downhill at speeds faster than you can travel uphill. Oncoming cars that are traveling uphill may not have time to get out of your way, and you could overcorrect when traveling at high rates of speed. This could cause a serious accident where you and your passengers could be injured.

3. Watch the temperature gauge on your car. When you are traveling at higher altitudes, your car may overheat faster than it would at sea level. If your car starts to overheat, you should find a safe place to pull off the road and let the car sit at a fast idle. The fastest way to cool down the engine is to turn on the heater. Of course, that may be a bit unpleasant in the summer months.

4. Know when to yield. By law, and for safety, the car traveling uphill should always be given the right of way. If you are traveling downhill, make sure you leave plenty of room for the oncoming car to pass you. If it’s a narrow road, you should backup until it is safe for the ascending car to pass.

5. Don’t hug the centerline. You should always leave at least half the road for oncoming cars to pass you. If you are hugging the middle, and an approaching car is hugging the middle, you could both overcorrect and cause an accident. If you are going so fast you feel the need to hug the centerline, slow down!

6. It is acceptable to slow down and enjoy the scenery. This is part of the appeal of mountain driving. Remember, though, that other drivers may not be as excited about the view. If you are driving slower than other drivers are, you should pull over in designated turnouts and let the other drivers pass. By law, you have to pull over if there is a line of five or more vehicles behind you.

7. Take frequent breaks. Mountain driving is hard on your vehicle, and hard on your passengers. If you are going to be in the mountains for more than a few hours, you should pack a lunch and prepare to take breaks.

8. Pack plenty of water. Altitude sickness can affect even the most experienced drivers. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during the day and have a ready supply of water on hand.

Remember to be safe, take your time, and have fun. Mountain driving in California can be a great experience for the whole family if the proper safety precautions are followed.

To find out more on this and other traffic laws, please see the complete listing of California Motor Vehicle Codes.

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