Tonight I was taking the kids out for a drive and I had to pull into a gas station for a moment. When I tried to get back onto the highway, I found myself in the undesirable position of trying to merge into traffic with another car whose driver wasn’t keen on allowing me. The speed limit is 110 km/hr. Because I started from a stand-still, I needed time to get up to highway speed before merging. As I looked at the car beside me, wondering why he refused to either move into the vacant left lane or adjust his speed to allow me to merge, I noticed that I was currently going 90 km/hr and increasing. Certainly this was worthy of a merge. Yet no quarter was given. No yield forthcoming. The other driver was obviously unfamiliar with the rules of the road.
Skip ahead to the part where I mentioned this encounter to someone, only to be told that I was in the wrong. That I should have adjusted my speed accordingly, even if that meant slowing down to allow the other driver to pass. Impossible! The speed limit is 110km/hr. HE wasn’t doing the limit. If I had slowed down and gotten into that lane, I would have been a sitting duck for the other cars coming along. The other driver had loads of room to move over and allow me to merge. He’s in the wrong. My friend is wrong. And I was determined to prove it!
Off to the internet…
WikiHow has a great article on how to merge properly, complete with pictures and a video. Perfect! Let’s see what they have to say…
- Make sure you are going at the same speed as the traffic into which you are merging as you reach the point where the ramp merges with the highway.
- Maintain a safe distance from anyone in the ramp/merge lane in front of you; expect traffic to possibly slowdown or stop, causing you to have to do the same to avoid a rear-end or clip while merging.
- Put your turn signal on so that the drivers on the highway notice that you are merging into their lane.
By this point I’m feeling a huge “I told ya so” coming on…
- Determine if you have room to merge onto the highway, if you do not (a car is currently beside you) you will have to speed up or down just a little until you have ample space to merge into.
I’m willing to overlook that one…
- Gradually, never abruptly, merge into the lane, following the natural path of the merging ramp
Sure… all of that still sounds like I have a pretty good case. I was certainly doing all of those things. A-hole wouldn’t move over, slow down, or increase his speed to what it should have been all along. Clearly in the wrong, and my friend had no idea what she was talking about.
Then I read through a few “Tips to Remember…”
- Make sure you are going fast enough to merge safely.
- Always turn your head and look, don’t just use the rearview mirror, as you will miss cars in your blind spot.
- Try to merge into traffic with at least one car length of space in front and behind of your vehicle.
- Look at the highway traffic flow as soon as possible in order to help you determine the opening you will want to accelerate into.
- If you are really nervous and there are others in the car, ask them to be quiet so you can focus.
- Pay attention and do not be distracted by other things.
- Always keep an eye on how much of the merge lane remains. Merge lanes, even on the same highway can vary greatly in length.
- When you can’t safely merge into the highway traffic–if you have the option to stay in the entry lane as it immediately becomes an exit lane, then do exit–do not stop on the acceleration/exit lane. You usually can then simply loop around on the service (or frontage) roads or local streets and try again.
- Remember to check if you can stay in the lane you have just merged into. In several major cities, the right-most lane is a commuter lane that is only open during certain hours.
I rock. I should have been a driving instructor.
- It is your responsibility to merge into traffic. The traffic already on the highway has the right of way. You must adjust your speed accordingly and merge safely!
Shit. I think I just lost my argument.
- You may have to slow down and move in behind the vehicle traveling beside you. Do not try to “punch it” to get in front of this vehicle. You may run out of room to do so.
Yup. So much for that “I told ya so”… Thanks for nothing, Internet.