Should rookies avoid the freeway? Yes. Why? Because in many ways it’s too damn easy. How so? Simple: think about how you drive your car on the freeway or highway. You’re looking straight ahead, in a bit of a trance, Rush Limbaugh may be screaming at you or it could be Trent Reznor doing the screaming either way other than the idea of speed we all tend to look at the freeway as an easy drive in our cars once we have any skill at all.
Therein lies the problem for newbies and the freeway—everyone else tends to be asleep at the wheel.
The flow of freeway driving leads to a certain hypnosis for drivers and riders alike, it’s easy to ride between the lines, hold a steady throttle and let your brain shut down as we wait for those cues that tell us our exit is coming up.
Admit it. You’ve arrived at your exit and don’t remember the journey.
New riders on the freeway are subject to the same thing, that slip into comfort and thought where you’re considering whether to have lunch at Taco Bell or…is Del Taco a step up or a step across? Really? And what about Green Burrito? Is that the same par? Is Baja Fresh in a different league?
OH SHIT! Brake lights straight ahead! (Time for a rookie braking error yes?)
Or, “THAT CAR DIDN’T SIGNAL THEIR INTENTIONS!” (Time for a rookie swerve error?)
How’s about, “I’ll just gas it and fit into that gap…OH CRAP!” (Rookie throttle error?)
The danger for newbs is that if you’re coming from a car you’re in the mindset that the freeway isn’t that big a deal. Sure, a new is a tad freaked out and wide awake the first few times but after a couple of survival sessions on the slab? Old habits come back.
Plus? All those car and truck drivers are a tad asleep as well. They make more mistakes and poor decisions and if you’re a newbie you ain’t got the skills to get out of a 70mph hole with trucks and cars and HOV lanes with seams and diesel and potholes around you. The skill set to ride on the freeway requires you to be wide awake and if you’re not? You need the reaction skills to do the right thing.
Newbs ain’t there yet.
I realize that in some places using the freeway is close to unavoidable. Sometimes you simply can’t get there from here without a jog on the 405 or 101 or (insert your metro nightmare freeway here) but that doesn’t mean you can’t go! It means you need to be aware of your own abilities. Increase your following distance. Keep your eyes up and know where you are and what’s around you. Plan, plan, plan. Know when you need to be where and be in that place before you have to be in that spot. And Newbs? The longer you’re on the slab the easier it is to have that mental drift happen so don’t plan for long runs on the freeway. Look for alternates and look the opportunity to use an alternate route.
Should Newbs hit the freeway right away? Nope. But if you have to realize the dangers you face and the skills you might lack.