Long downhill driving is extremely demanding on the brakes. The drivers
need to aware of this and should not underestimate this. If you are on
a slope of 6% over 6 miles the change in elevation will be 199 feet. A
free fall from that elevation (1900 feet) will generate a velocity of
235 mph. That is the velocity your truck will have if you do not use brakes.
This means breaking while negotiating this slope is slowing down from
235 mph. You will need to do a lot of stopping. Therefore it is absolutely
necessary that you use the right braking technique and your brakes be
in proper condition too.
Not so long ago it was suggested that a continuous application of brakes
should be followed rather than intermittent application. But now most
experts believe that intermittent braking on a downgrade is the proper
way to brake. On a downgrade each application of brake should reduce the
speed of a fully loaded truck by about 5 to 6 mph.
Theoretically, the same amount of heat will get generated whether you jam
the brakes by continuous application or apply them intermittently. But
in practice unless the brakes are in perfect condition, the balance is
correct and load is evenly spread, the continuous application of brakes
is likely to result in uneven drum and lining temperatures that will cause
problems with braking. Steady, low pressure application of brakes may
not cause all the brakes to apply at the same time. This can cause some
brakes to more work than others. Brake problems can get aggravated by
For best results you need all the brakes to work at the same time. The
pressure applied on the brakes should be high enough to ensure all the
brakes apply and all linings make solid contact with the drums.
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