Tips for Driving San Diego Freeways
Driving the freeways of San Diego can be difficult and treacherous at times. Freeways here are not as bad as those north of us in Orange, Los Angeles, and Riverside Counties, but often they seem that way.
Whether you drive your own car or a rental for traveling to San Diego County breweries, using freeways to get to most of them is inevitable. There’s no way of getting around it. The good thing is all freeways lead to craft beer.
To make your life easier, here are some tips from a local on how to drive on San Diego freeways to get to the breweries quickly and safely:
Tip: Most freeways around San Diego have four lanes. The farthest lane to the left is the number 1 lane; the lane to the right of it is the number 2 lane; and so on.
Lane 1 is for fast driving cars and lane 4 is for slower speed vehicles, like trucks, cars pulling trailers, and cars being driven by geriatric types. When traffic is light, speeds in lane 1 average 80 miles miles per hour, and in lane 4 they average 55 miles per hour.
Tip: Although some freeways have carpool lanes, my recommendation is not to use them unless you know what you are doing, where you are going, how to enter and exit, and can drive like you are in lane 1, but faster.
Tip: Unless you are skilled enough to drive 85 miles per hour with a single car length between you and other cars, stay out of lane 1. When the freeways aren’t crowded with heavy traffic, lane 2 can sometimes be this fast, too. If it is, then my advice is to use lane 3.
Tip: According to the California Highway Patrol, lane 3 is the safest lane to drive in when traveling. Use this lane, go with the flow, leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you, and don’t speed.
Tip: The I-5 freeway starts at the border with Mexico and ends at the border with Canada. It is a shipping corridor for freight trucks. Beware of them. They like to travel in lane 3. Leave lots of room when they are in front of you, and in back of you. When passing freight trucks, do it quickly.
Tip: San Diego has had an influx of people from other states and countries in recent years. Do not assume they know how to drive safely on the freeways. Remember the old adage: “Watch out for the other guy.”
Tip: Plan your route to breweries ahead of time so you’ll know where to transition to another freeway and which exit to take. When driving on freeways, move into lane 4 at least a mile before exiting.
Tip: Install the Sigalert.com and/or WAZE.com apps on your smartphone. Check either one or both to see where heavy traffic, accidents, or hazards may be on your route and plan for them. If you get stuck in traffic check these apps to see why. Maybe you can reroute around the traffic jam.
Tip: Rush hour traffic in San Diego is like any other city, i.e., when people are going to work in the morning, and when they are going home in the late afternoon/early evening, the freeways will have heavy traffic.
Tip: Keep road-trip food in the car to munch on between brewery visits, such as jerky, pretzels, granola, nuts, and water.
Tip: Do not drive while under the influence! Use a designated driver, Uber, Lyft, or one of the local beer tour companies when visiting San Diego breweries.