Driving on gravel presents risks if you're not prepared, because the uneven and inconsistent surface affects stability, ride, and handling. But like other driver behavior, these risks can be managed so fleet drivers can reach their destination safely.
Experts offer the following tips for driving safely on gravel:
Adjust tire pressure — Drivers who know in advance that they will be driving on gravel should adjust their tire pressure in order to aid traction. As a general rule, aim for these psi (pounds per square inch) measures: firm dirt/gravel track 28-36 psi; rough gravel track 26-32 psi; rocks 22-28 psi or even lower, if you're forced to go at a snail's pace over rocky terrain.
Use the technology in your vehicle — Before starting out, switch stability control. Drivers should use whatever they have in their vehicles to provide the best traction for gravel terrain. For example, 4-wheel drive high range or the equivalent offers far better traction than 2-wheel drive.
Slow down — Always approach gravel roads with caution. Drivers should slow down when moving from paved roads to gravel surfaces to ensure they stay in control of the vehicle.
Avoid sudden changes in direction — Swerving is particularly dangerous on gravel and can cause drivers to lose control.
Drive in the tracks of previous vehicles — This is a smart move as it offers your vehicle a slightly smoother surface.
Leave a good distance between your vehicle and those ahead — This is the best way to avoid dust from obscuring your view as well as loose gravel from hitting your windshield.
Learn more about best practices for driving on gravel by watching this 60-Second Driver video from Manitoba Public Insurance.