Road Merging

Merging into high-speed traffic is one of the scariest and most dangerous maneuvers that drivers can do. Unfortunately, lots of drivers mess it up. In fact, superhighway entrance ramps are prime locations for traffic jams and rear-end collisions.

Done correctly, merging on and off interstates is a dance that takes at least two partners. But the bottom line is that the one doing the merging is ultimately responsible for safety in that situation. So it’s incumbent on every driver to know how to avoid Merge Madness.

Use your turn signal far ahead of time. This goes both for entering an interstate as well as exiting. Assume that the average driver isn’t paying attention to you, so at all steps of the maneuver give him or her a long time to spot your blinking turn signal.

As the merging driver, plan ahead. You need to be looking for breaks in traffic as soon as the lane you want to get into becomes visible. On an entrance ramp, this means long before you enter the acceleration lane (see diagram). On the highway, it doesn’t hurt to start looking for a gap as much as a half mile before you want to exit.

Be alert for merging traffic. Here’s where egoswallowing and common courtesy really pay off. Watch for vehicles trying to enter or exit the interstate, and give them a break by adjusting your speed or safely changing lanes to give the other driver space.
Remember: you also suffer in a  auto collision even if it’s the “other driver’s” fault.

Match the speed of drivers already on the highway. Most modern entrance ramps feature acceleration lanes to make this possible, so you can go with
the flow of traffic.

Don’t stop near the end of the entrance ramp. This happens when drivers start looking at the traffic at the last possible moment. Stopping on the entrance ramp should be your last resort to avoid an auto accident. Being able to see the traffic around you is critical when merging into and out of traffic. Be sure your mirrors are properly set to avoid blind spots, and make certain to look over your shoulder before you make your move.

merging