Driving in the North Carolina Mountains can be a wonderful and exhilarating experience and provide views you can’t get anywhere else. Taking a nice Friday afternoon drive to your Mountain Cabin along the Blue Ridge Parkway is the ultimate retreat! Here are some tips for driving on NC High Country Roads:
For long down grades, downshift to “S” or “L” to hold your downhill speed. When using your brakes, do not hold down the brake pedal for long periods of time as that will cause them to wear faster or even burn! Instead,pulse the brakes until you get to the speed you want.
DRIVING AROUND CURVES
Most NC mountain roads are narrower than Interstate highways. Some drivers have a tendency to hug the center line, but this driving technique is both unwise and irritating to other drivers. If you are hugging the center line, and another center-hugging vehicle comes around a curve from the opposite direction, both drivers may over correct and create a hazardous situation.
SLOW COUNTRY DRIVES
If traffic behind you grows to more than three vehicles, common courtesy in the mountains is to look for a designated pullout and let the traffic pass. Curvy NC mountain roads have few passing zones.
DRIVING IN THE FOG
Fog can hit you by surprise in the NC High Country as it can lay between two mountains in a valley while the weather is clear everywhere else!
- Allow extra space between you and other cars and decrease your speed since your visual distance will be hindered.
- Use your driving lights (the lights that come on automatically on most newer vehicles) and fog lights, if possible. If you have neither, try your low beams. High beam lights can hinder sight in fog.
- Watch out for animals in the road. Animals, particularly deer, feel protected by the fog and might be braver than normal
DRIVING IN THE SNOW
Snow can fall and stick fast and unexpectedly in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Make sure you have tires with good tread and anti-freezing windshield cleaner fluid. Also keep a blanket and other emergency supplies in your vehicle
- Run your air conditioning to remove condensation and frost from the inside of your windshield
- Make sure you turn on your lights, regardless of how bright the snow is during the daytime, so that other drivers can see you
- Remove the snow from the lights, hood and trunk/rear of your car. This insures your visibility and keeps now from falling off your vehicle and hitting another vehicle!
- Resist “over steering” if you lose traction on an icy patch. Try to gently rock the steering wheel from side to side always coming back to your original start position. If the icy conditions end and the front tires regain grip, your car will dart whichever way the wheels are pointed. That may be into oncoming traffic or a telephone pole.
- Resist “over braking” if you lose traction on an icy patch as well. Step hard on the brakes, but release slowly if your ABS kicks in with fast pulsing. Continue to sept hard and release while rocking your steering wheel until you are through the icy patch.
- Unfortunately, sometimes there is nothing you can do to avoid an accident but pull off the road and wait for road conditions to improve– or stay at your mountain cabin retreat snuggled up by the fire!
- Road crews stay prepared for ice and snow in the NC High Country and do a good job keeping main roads clear. It might take a while, but the “scraper trucks” will eventually make it to the secondary roads to scrape and lay salt and cinders.
- And finally!– make sure to wash your car after the snow subsides. Salt build-up on your vehicle can corrode and rust your brakes and eat through the paint and metal on your vehicle if left on it for too long. You will find many drive-thru car washes in the NC High Country with undercarriage washes because of this.