Mountain Driving Tips Learned from the I-70 Semi Fire Accident

Jul 25, 2019 | Driving Safety

The I-70 truck Fire Accident

The recent heatwave has driven many (more than 152,000) to the mountains during the weekend. If you were up near Georgetown on Saturday, 7/19, you might have seen the smoke from I-70, not caused by the heatwave, but a fire from a semi-truck, loaded with watermelon.

The semi cargo truck fire was reported by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) right before noon on Saturday. Officials shortly updated in a Tweet that a single lane is open for traffic, and long delays should be expected.

Fortunately, nobody was injured during the fire, and most of the watermelon cargo survived – according to a Reddit post.

Mountain Driving Tips for Truck Drivers

Many wondered what has caused the fire and what we all can learn from situations like this. So we decided to refresh some of the mountain driving tips, especially for truck drivers to brake safely while traveling downhills:

1. Full inspection before driving on any terrain.

Be sure to check your brakes, tires, and the maintenance log to prevent potential issues. It is also smart to check weather reports before a trip, as mountain weather can change very quickly and is highly unpredictable. Bring an extra set of tire chains. One other suggestion is to pack an emergency bag with water, food, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher and some extra clothing.

2. Be patient and travel slowly.

The mountains are not a place for a car race. No matter whether you are climbing or descending, never travel too quickly. It is almost impossible to regain control when a truck (or a heavy vehicle) gains momentum going down.

3. Use proper braking techniques (sub braking) and take advantage of the jake brake or an engine retarder.

Before you descend, brake and downshift to be one gear lower than the one you came up in, so you can creep down the hill. But sometimes on a long downgrade, if you have to apply brakes to slow down, use the jake brake or an engine retarder, as much as you can, so you don’t overheat the brakes. Here’s an article with specific tips on the jake (auxiliary) brake technique.

4. Be aware of the escape ramps and use it if necessary.

They are there for a reason – your safety and the safety of other drivers on the mountain. If you are in trouble (ex. Your brake fails), head to the runaway lane.


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If you or a loved one has been injured by an accident involving a tractor-trailer, semi-truck, or other commercial vehicle, FDAzar can help. We have experienced truck accident lawyers ready to review your case with you. And we have the dedication to our clients to ensure that your claim will be handled efficiently and aggressively so that you can get the recovery you deserve. Call us day or night at 720-372-1162 or or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.