3.1 – Gravity

Gravity is the force that pulls all objects towards the center of the earth. It can also effect your speed of travel when going uphill and downhill.

The Force of Gravity
Automobiles are equipped with safety equipment to counteract the effect of gravity. Low gears are used to overcome gravity while driving uphill and downhill.


uphillWhen you are driving uphill, the force of gravity is working against you to slow you down. You may need to accelerate or change to a lower gear to maintain your speed.



downphillWhen you drive downhill, the reverse is true. Gravity will cause you to go faster. Gravity increases your stopping distance. You may need to shift to a lower gear or smoothly apply your breaks to slow down to a safe speed to control your vehicle.


Parking On A Hill
When you park on a sloping driveway, turn the wheels so the car will not roll into the street if the brakes fail. Always set your parking brake and leave the vehicle in gear or the park position.

  • Headed downhill, turn your front wheels into the curb or toward the side of the road. Set the parking brake.
  • Headed uphill, turn your front wheels away from the curb and let your vehicle roll back a few inches. The back of the front wheel should gently touch the curb. Set the parking brake.
  • Headed either uphill or downhill and there is no curb, turn the wheels so the car will roll away from the center of the road if the brakes fail.


Use of Gears, Brakes and Wheel Blocks in Parking on Inclines
The driver must be aware of proper parking concepts when parking on an incline. Improper parking techniques may cause the vehicle to roll away causing serious hazards.


  • gearsThe driver must park in the proper gear for the direction of the incline.
  • In a standard transmission vehicle, the driver who is parking their vehicle on a downhill should park in reverse gear.
  • If the driver is parking their vehicle on an uphill they should use their first gear.
  • Always use the parking brake and aim the tires into the curb.


  • gears1If the driver is driving an automatic transmission vehicle, they must park in the parked position.
  • They must use their parking brake and aim their tires into the curb.




brakesThe driver who is parking on an incline must use their parking or emergency brake. This will keep the vehicle from rolling away. The brake should be pulled all the way up to assure that it is set properly. If the vehicle is not set properly, gravity will force itself and the vehicle will careen down the incline.


Wheel Blocks

wheel_blocksIf the driver who is parking on an incline does not feel that their vehicle can safely stay parked, then they need to use wheel blocks. Wheel blocks are blocks that can either be of wood, metal, cement. Wheel blocks are suggested if you are carrying a very heavy load, since vehicles are designed to hold only so much weight. The heavy load may cause the brakes to fail and the results can be disastrous.


tipWhat goes up must come down. Gravity will pull a vehicle down an incline, just as it would a ball rolling down a hill. Use of vehicle safety equipment to helps fight against the forces of gravity.

Related Courses