How to be a Safe Driver in the Mountains

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    West Virginia, Welcome to mountain state road sign

    It’s that time of year when drivers flock to the mountains of West Virginia to soak in the beautiful fall foliage. It’s also the time of year when auto accidents in the mountains become more prevalent.

    Many people lack experience driving in the mountains and are confused when they face the unique conditions that exist in these regions. The following are some of the best ways to stay safe while enjoying the best of the fall colors in the mountains:

    • Don’t burn out the brakes. Many drivers react to the steep mountain grades they encounter in the mountains by riding their brakes to slow their vehicles. Unfortunately, this tactic can lead to brake failure when the brakes overheat. A better strategy is to start slowly on steep declines, downshift to a lower gear and intermittently apply the brakes to keep the vehicle at a safe speed. If brakes begin to smell like they’re burning, drivers should pull over and allow them to cool.
    • Gain speed the smart way. Ascending a mountain can be almost as challenging to novice mountain drivers as descending one. To maintain momentum, motorists should avoid using air conditioning to conserve engine power and consider using a lower gear. This can help prevent power loss while travelling uphill. If an engine dies, drivers should try to pull over right away, if possible.
    • Respect the weather. High elevations are notorious for foggy, rainy, snowy and windy weather. All of these conditions require drivers to maintain slower speeds than usual to maximize visibility and traction. Reducing one’s speed also makes it easier to avoid car accidents.

    After a serious auto accident, whether in the mountains or valleys of West Virginia, you may need to explore your options for seeking compensation from negligent motorists or their insurance companies. Consult a skilled car accident lawyer for further guidance. 

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    About the Author

    Kevin Kaufman
    Kevin Kaufman

    Kevin S. Kaufman is a 1977 graduate of Bridgeport High School, where he received a National Merit Scholarship, a Consolidated Natural Gas Company full scholarship, and a West Virginia Achievement scholarship. Mr. Kaufman completed his education at West Virginia University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, an MBA, and his law degree.