modern moose
driving tips

driving tips


Mountain driving tips are plentiful across the Internet, we suggest checking out these two pages as well as searching for others as needed:

Allstate tips for safe mountain driving

and

Roadtrip America tips for safe mountain driving

We also assume you have a vehicle in good working condition with excellent tire treads, preferably all-time all-wheel-drive, next preference is front-wheel drive. And never a rear-wheel drive vehicle.


Modern Moose Mountain Motoring

We believe you should take in as much information as you can and then process it as it makes sense for you. Beyond the normal tips on other websites, these are the things we are absolutely vigilant about when driving in Colorado during bad weather (rain/snow/ice):

NEVER hit your brakes or change lanes on –

  • Bridges
  • Overpasses
  • Turns/Curves
  • Entering/Exiting Tunnels

DO NOT use cruise-control in the mountains, you need to constantly adjust speed based on the ever changing conditions of uphill/downhill, turns, ice/snow/rain, and the wildly different speeds of the vehicles around you.

NO Multi-tasking! Eyes on the road, both hands on the wheel, no distractions. Even if the weather’s great, some vehicles will be moving very slow, some very fast – and that’s a recipe for sudden issues you need to be paying attention to.


If you can’t apply brakes on bridges, overpasses, tunnels and turns – then when? If you need to hit the brakes as you approach any of those situations, press gently but firmly on the brakes right beforehand. Slow down enough so that you can get through the hazard smoothly and with no additional braking.

Do I use the brakes on curves, bridges, tunnels, etc.? Yes. As a general rule, try not to use the brakes in these situations. Sometimes I mis-judge the curve or sometimes someone else decides at the last minute they need to be in front of you and go really slow. There are situations you can’t control, so these are guidelines to follow as often as you can.


Changing lanes at the wrong time puts you at risk of hitting a slick spot that’s not necessarily present in the travel lanes. Friction from tires of vehicles helps to keep the travel lanes warmer than the parts of the road that are not being constantly driven on. Sometimes just that subtle difference is enough to create a hazard for lane changes.


Downhill Braking on Highways by Jim

DO NOT ride your brakes!!! Brake failure is a real thing no matter how new your vehicle is.

Prior to entering the technology field, I drove tractor trailers for a living. I went to a truck driving school in Colorado Springs and learned mountain driving up and down Highway 24 from Colorado Springs to Woodland Park. The method I learned at that time is the one I use to this day. Back then, the school called it “stab braking”, not sure if that’s changed or if the name makes a difference either way. Today, I just think of it as “downhill braking” because it’s truly the only way downhill braking should ever be done.

It’s fairly simple. While driving downhill you’ll pick up speed from the nature of gravity. When you reach your desired speed, you press the brakes firmly and slow down by 10-MPH as quickly as possible without causing an accident inside or outside the vehicle. That puts you at 10-MPH under the desired speed. Now, it’ll take time once again with gravity’s help to achieve your desired speed – the break from braking is enough to keep them in good working order and keeps you at a safe speed.

Let’s say we’re driving down a long steep hill on the Interstate and the speed limit is 65, road conditions are good. I’d let the car get up to about 68 and then apply the brakes to quickly get to 58-60 (after first checking no vehicles are too close behind us). Repeat when we hit approximately 68. If conditions are not so good, maybe my desired speed on this same stretch of road is 60, so when I reach 60 I brake until 50. This is all very situational – all the variables change based on where you are and what’s happening. Maybe the grade is not too steep, so a 10-MPH slowdown is too much, maybe I only slow down by 5-MPH each time. If we’re headed downhill and also a curve is coming up, maybe I brake more than 10-MPH right before the curve.

Never, ever, ever ride the brakes for any amount of time.


Downhill Braking on Streets/Roads

This one’s just as important – even though you aren’t going highway speeds, the risk is just as dire. Most often accompanied by switchbacks, with and without rails, mountain on one side and sheer drop-off on the other. This is not the place to be careless with brakes.

In this case, you want to use the downhill braking method as described above and also keep the vehicle in a lower gear; like 1 or 2.

One of the most extreme examples is the road down from the top of Pikes Peak. Literally every year vehicles launch over the side of that road and travel hundreds of yards straight down before crashing into trees and boulders. It’s almost always brake failure. Every once in a while it’s panic about brake failure but the brakes were actually fine.

Keep your wits about you, follow some simple guidelines, and make it to the bottom safe and sound.


Tire Chains?

There are certainly times when you may consider or you may be required to use chains.

Colorado Department of Transportation will announce chain law restrictions via roadway signs, 511 traveler information and its website, www.cotrip.org.

There are multiple Chain stations right on I-70, this is where you can put on and/or remove chains in a safe place without exiting the interstate.

How we do it

How often have we used chains? Never. We’ve driven all over the state all throughout winter, and have rarely changed plans due to road conditions. Colorado is extremely efficient with plowing and salting; they rely on your business for tourism and they do everything possible to make sure you can get to where you want to go.

We usually have all-wheel-drive or front-wheel drive, never rear-wheel drive.

Check the road report before leaving the house; www.cotrip.org.

If the snow is deep enough to need chains, wait a few hours for the plows to catch up and clear the roads or choose an alternate route.

You can use chains, that’s a perfectly fine thing to do. But, our point-of-view is that if conditions are bad enough for chains, why go out at all unless you really have to?

Some locals use studded tires all winter long. We’ve never used studded tires either -but the folks who do use them typically need to drive to work no matter the weather, they don’t have the luxury of waiting it out or going another time…


Miscellaneous

Please don’t drive with snow piled up on your car. What happens to it as you go down the road? It flies off and hits the cars behind you creating a dangerous situation. It adds snow and ice to the roads which creates a dangerous situation. It’s just not necessary to create dangerous conditions for everyone else over something so simple to prevent. On the flip-side, try not to drive behind someone who has snow piled up on their vehicle.

Be patient to the best of your ability. Large trucks physically cannot get up hills any faster than they’re going. They must go down the hill as fast (or as slow) as they were able to go up it – that’s a rule of thumb to keep everyone on the road safe from a truck with failed brakes. Tourists will sightsee, their speed will vary greatly; try to put distance between yourself and sightseers. Inpatient drivers will accelerate to dangerous speeds to get around slow-moving traffic. The mix of really fast and really slow traffic makes a very dynamic and very dangerous situation. Your awareness of this helps you stay vigilant with safe situational driving.

Leave early. People always under-estimate the time it takes to get around Colorado. Plan ahead, leave early, then you can drive with less stress, take your time, get there safely.

Colorado has many recreational products for sale legally – of course, just like with alcohol – you CANNOT use such substances and then drive.

Tire inflation – check the inside door-frame of your car – the recommended tire pressure will most likely be listed there. Make sure all your tires have the proper inflation and they are all the same, or close to the same as each other. Under or over inflation or mismatched tire inflation can lead to losing control of the vehicle more easily and can also lead to tire failure while driving.

Window washer fluid – make sure the fluid you use in the winter is good for extreme low temperatures. You’ll use alot more washer fluid when the roads are wet with snow, it’s the salt or other conditioner the plows drop that will constantly film your windshield.

Need help with your car? From tires to engines, and everything in between – we exclusively use Goodway, https://goodwayauto.com/

We’ve called on them twice, they’ve been extremely busy but always fit us in same day to get us back on the road. Really nice people and honest, reasonable rates.

Note: It’s really difficult to find their shop, GPS should take you to an office building called “Enterprise Commercial Center 1”, Goodway is tucked all the way behind the office building.