Our many mountain areas are among the natural wonders that make North Carolina one of the most beautiful states to call home. They also draw visitors from all over the country. However, they can be dangerous areas for driving — regardless of the weather — if you’re not skilled at mountain driving and don’t exercise the proper caution.
Of course, snow brings extra challenges to mountain driving. The Blue Ridge Mountains can get hit with significant snowfalls, as can other areas. Aside from taking care not to skid on icy roads, visibility is key. Even if it’s sunny and the snow adds extra brightness, make sure your headlights are on so that you can be seen by other drivers. Don’t use your high beams. They’ll cause extra glare from the snow, and you could blind oncoming drivers.
Let’s look at some other aspects of mountain driving that call for extra caution:
Curves: Slow down on curves and stay away from the center line. When vehicles going in opposite directions who are both “hugging” that center line meet, it can be a recipe for disaster.
Traveling downhill: If you’re on a downgrade for any period, shift to a lower gear. It’s also better to pulse the brakes than to hold the brake pedal down. That will wear them out your brakes faster.
Fog: Fog can seemingly come out of nowhere, particularly in the High Country. Slow down and keep extra distance between your vehicle and others. Be on the lookout for animals who often feel safer moving around in the fog and may be more likely to cross the road than they would in sunny conditions. As with snow, avoid using your high beams.
It’s wise to slow down in all of these conditions. Many visitors drive slowly just to better enjoy the scenery. However, if you’re driving slower than others on the road and you notice multiple vehicles behind you, look for an area where you can pull over and let them pass. This will help prevent frustration and dangerous attempts to pass.
Don’t assume that because you’re deep in the mountains, you won’t encounter law enforcement officers. If you’re driving at a speed that’s unsafe for conditions or doing something else potentially dangerous, you could get a ticket or face other fines and penalties. An attorney who knows the local courts can provide help and guidance.