As more people travel during the summer, the roads become more congested with vehicles. With an increase in traffic, the chances of an accident rise exponentially. Many car crashes occur because of a lack of communication between drivers, especially when merging onto incoming traffic or another lane. Follow these merging tips to ensure your safety and those around you.
Switching lanes is one of the most common actions performed by a driver. Whether you’re passing another vehicle, exiting off the highway, or trying to get out from behind that obnoxious 18-wheeler, switching lanes is a required skill of every driver.
In order to communicate properly, you must use your turn signal. This is non-negotiable. Your turn signal will notify all nearby vehicles of what you intend to do. This gives them the opportunity to adjust and react accordingly.
Make sure you only cross one lane of traffic at a time. This gives the vehicles in each lane the chance to see what you are doing. It’s also very dangerous to shoot across 3 or 4 lanes of traffic. It is nearly impossible for a vehicle in the far left lane to react when your car suddenly comes into view after you had been in the right lane only seconds earlier. You must establish yourself in one lane before making your next move.
Remember to check all mirrors and your blind spot before switching lanes. Some cars have a larger blind spot than others so make sure you are aware of your vehicles line of sight. Check your rearview mirror, both side mirrors, turn your head briefly and check the rearview mirror once more before switching lanes.
Merging On and Off the Highway
As you approach the highway, make sure that you take advantage of the acceleration ramp in order to match the speed of other vehicles before merging onto incoming traffic. Don’t forget to yield to other vehicles as they have the right away, but also avoid stopping at all costs. Stopping on the entrance ramp can be just as dangerous.
Make sure you wait until the solid yellow line ends before merging. This solid line serves as a warning that it is not safe to merge. Typically this line is present when merging onto a highway with heavy traffic or in the middle of a curve. The line assures that you have had enough time to match the speed in order to merge safely.
Be aware of your exit. The last thing you will want to do is cross several lanes at once because your exit is quickly approaching. Know where you are at all times, and slowly make your way to the right lane in order to exit safely. Once you have merged onto the exit ramp make note of any upcoming stops and slow your vehicle down accordingly.
Merging Responsibly Saves Lives
Changing lanes responsibly will decrease the chances of causing a fatal accident. In general, obeying any traffic laws will keep the roads safe. Make sure you are aware of any special traffic laws that your state enforces. There is no such thing as being too careful.