Truck Driving Down Donner Pass

by TruckerMike

Until recently, I had never actually been on Donner's Pass in California. Donners Pass is usually touted as one of the more dangerous areas for truck drivers and is the site of many fatal accidents. It's quite an experience! I had the pleasure of going through it at night. I would have liked to take it during the day so I could see some of the scenery around me, but I'm sure I'll get that chance in the future. I was still able to make some key observations though...


First, it wasn't as bad as I thought. I think it was just hyped up so much that I was expecting something more dramatic. Don't get me wrong, the brakes on my truck definitely had a workout and the palms of my hands were slightly moist afterwards, but it certainly wasn't what I expected.

Second, I didn't expect all the traffic! When I thought of Donners Pass, I thought about a lightly used portion of the expressway. Boy did I have that wrong. Being a Sunday night, I got all the 4-wheelers coming back from a weekend in Reno, NV. Traffic was moving, but it was bumper to bumper during the entire ordeal. The CB definitely helped out in one situation. I was coming down one of the steep declines and somebody on the CB indicated there was a wrecked 4-wheeler ahead and traffic was coming to a stop. Sure enough, on the decline and right around a turn it was nothing but solid brake lights. The idiot trucker behind me obviously didn't have the CB on. The truck ahead of me and myself slowed down since we knew what was ahead. The moron behind me was right on my butt, probably all upset we were going so slow. Being the super trucker that he is, he wanted to go faster down the decline. Needless to say, I was nearly rear ended by that truck when we had to mash on the brakes and come to a dead stop on a 6% grade. Maybe he'll think about leaving some more space next time. The backup didn't last long thankfully.

One last observation is the lack of parking in the area! I had checked earlier in the day what the parking situation was like, and I knew it wasn't going to be good. But there are 2 rest areas through there and I was coming through about 7pm local time. I figured I'd just grab a spot at one of the rest areas and if all else fails, hit up the 49er truck stop at exit 85. Both rest areas were SLAM full. I probably should have just parked in the "brake check" area like many other people were doing, but I really don't like parking on the side of the road like that. Thankfully, I was able to get one of the last remaining parking spaces at the 49er truck stop. Too bad it cost me 12 bucks to park there overnight. Let the2010 tax deductions begin!

The next day, I had to head east back over Donners Pass. This time was a little more interesting as it was snowing over the pass. It wasn't too bad, but enough to make the roads slick and reduce visibility. I got behind oneparticulartruck that was driving especially slow. I stayed behind him for a bit before I decided to go for the pass. After I passed him, the driver called me up on the CB. He stated his wipers weren't working and he couldn't see very well then asked if I could slow up so he could follow my lead. Helping out this driver gave me a good excuse to drive slow down the snowy mountain and that driver was very gracious for the help.

So after a full year of driving, I'm still experiencing things for the first time. It's a never ending adventure out here, and I'm glad I have finallyconqueredDonners Pass!

Until next time, drive safely!



Operating While Intoxicated

by Brett Aquila

Related Articles:

The Weaving Driver

by Rhonda

You never know when a beautiful day for a drive can suddenly turn ugly, as it did for Rhonda in her big rig on a typical summer day in Wisconsin.

On The Road In Training: There's Been A Lot Of Ups And Downs

by JakeCat22

I've been on the road with my trainer and there's been a lot of ups and downs. We're learning a ton everyday, but it's not easy for me or my family.

My First Solo Run Went Better Than I Expected

by JakeCat22

My first ever solo run as a trucker went pretty well, but of course I ran into several issues and learned some good lessons right off the bat.

My First Time Driving A Rig Through The Big Apple

by JakeCat22

I've only been on the road a short time running solo, and I had my first chance to drive through NYC in a big rig, and what a crazy adventure it was!

What's A Tough Day Like In The Trucking World?

by JakeCat22

People wonder what life is like on the road for truckers. Well, you certainly have your good and bad days, and here's what a bad day is like...

My First Run As A Professional Driver

by BlueHillsTrucker

Nothing could be more exciting than climbing behind the wheel of a rig for your first run ever as a professional driver! Here's how it went for me.

Important Truths For Rookie Drivers: Surviving Your First 6 Months

by lucky13

So how does a new driver survive their hectic, stressful, tiring, demanding, and incredibly challenging first 6 months on the job? Here's my advice...

Mama Said There'll Be Days Like This

by Rhonda

Life on the road is challenging, and drivers are on tight schedules. But this was one of those days where I made a mistake that made things even worse!

The Ups And Downs Of Life On The Road

by Becky Prestwich

After just a short time on the road with my husband I've come to realize that everyday life in the trucking industry is like a roller coaster ride.

Living And Working Together On The Road

by Becky Prestwich

After a month of travelling with my husband who is an OTR trucker we're learning to live and work well together. Life on the road takes some getting used to.

Join Us!

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training

About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

Read More

Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

Learn More