What Is the Correct Way to Merge Into Traffic?

It is funny how some experienced drivers – and I mean drivers that have been behind the wheel for decades – still have an uneasy feeling about changing lanes or merging into heavy traffic.

If you share the lack of courage for the merge, this primer brought to you by auto insurance experts on how to do it without causing an accident will certainly be a welcome addition to your collection of must-reads on road safety.

The Right Way to Merge into another Lane

When is the right time to merge?

Pay attention to the patterns of traffic on the road. Take your time and get ready to merge ahead of time by signaling so other drivers will understand your intent. Glance at all your mirrors and check your blind spot before ascertaining the precise moment to make your merge. This will be when the traffic eases up – enough to create a sufficient gap between you and the vehicles in front and behind you. When there is a gap at least twice the length of your vehicle, you can begin to move into the next lane by duplicating or going enough over the speed of others on the road so that you will gain access into the next lane.

What if the traffic does not let up?

In the event heavy traffic does not cease and cars are going slow enough, you can communicate to the other drivers for access into the lane. You can do this either by using hand language – or if traffic is going really slowly, by lowering your car window to ask the next driver if her will allow you in.

Are there any exceptions to traffic laws for the driver who merges?

No way! Remember that every driver – even the merging driver – must obey traffic laws. Traffic laws were created by the legislatures in order to reduce the risks of collisions. In your case, this means never crossing a solid white line, yielding to others and following the set speed limits, among other things.

Anything else I need to be cautious of as I merge?

When merging, keep the 2-3 second space rule between you and the car in front of you. This helps you ease into the merge so that you will not suddenly need to reduce speed, risking an accident with others behind you who may not be prepared for your speed change.

What about immediately following the merge?

Remember to turn off your indicator signal, adjust to the speed of the traffic and keep the proper distance between your car and the one ahead of you. Just as others have demonstrated consideration towards your situation, show the same to others who may want to merge.

Katherine E. Ackerman

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