This might be the single hardest article to write as well as to describe to you how to do it but is so very important so here goes. I have witnessed so many accidents/near accidents when drivers are attempting to merge so please pay extra attention to this article as you follow my bouncing ball.
Most of the merging you will be doing involves the art of getting on and off highways so there are two different thought processes to these actions.
Merging Onto the Highway!
- As soon as you head down the entrance ramp to merge into the traffic it is time to focus and think just how and when you are going to do this so stop any unnecessary distractions!
- Put your turn signal on to alert traffic of what you are up to.
- Depending on how long the lane you are riding in is know your goal is to merge as quickly and as safely as possible. The last thing you need to be doing is waiting until just before this lane ends and then you panic to try to get over causing all kinds of trouble for you as well as other drivers.
- With your turn signal on take a quick look into your inside rear view mirror to get an idea of what traffic looks like in the lane you are wanting to merge into.
- Now it’s time to use the driver’s outside mirror to locate a gap in traffic that you can pull into however first things first as you must stay alert for cars in front of you that are doing the same thing you are. Never take your eyes off them because the second you do they will often times slow up or in some crazy cases will stop and then you go slamming into their rear end!
- Once you see the gap you need that will allow you to slide over and merge into the lane you need — don’t mess around do it!
- Lastly if in fact a driver was nice enough to open that gap for you to move over well there is nothing wrong with giving them a friendly wave of thanks!
Merging Off the Highway!
- There will be times when getting off at an exit you will have cars in this lane that are coming down from a shared lane as they try to merge onto the highway either in front of or behind you so this can be a little trickier than just a standard exit ramp.
- You need to be planning your exit well in advance by getting into the right lane and prior to starting your exit/merger turn on your blinker to alert everyone of what you are doing.
- If you see cars coming down the exit lane/ramp that you are wanting to merge onto or get off on then gauge their speed as they are wanting to get onto the highway at the same time you are wanting to get off.
- Then decide based on your speed and that of the other cars if you should be the one that merges in front of them or if you want to slow up a bit and slide in behind them to compete the merge
The Dreadful Circle Merge/Ramp
This might very well be the hardest of all merges but fortunately one that you do not encounter as much as the others but you do need to be prepared for it.
The reason this is so hard is that when you are circling up onto the highway this ramp does not offer a long length of road for you to determine what and how you are going to merge. With this limited time and distance you must be prepared to quickly and I mean quickly make up your mind what you are going to do.
So here you need to get rid of all distractions again as this is not the time to be talking on the phone or carrying on a conversation with your passenger but is a time for total concentration of the task that lies ahead of you as you will not have a lot of time to screw around.
So follow the instructions from above by signaling to the other drivers that you want to come over into their lane and that you will need to do it quickly and again safely.
Game of Give and Take
8 times out of 10 the others drivers realize your dilemma and will either slow down, speed up or merge one lane over to allow you a safe entrance into the lane but be prepared for those 2 out of 10 idiots who don’t!
The whole objective for merging onto or off the highway is to make this an effortless maneuver and to do it as smoothly as possible. As the article is titled this is not to become a game of chicken or to prove who is the boss of the highway, it’s a give and take approach and not a battle of wits.
Don’t Stress if You Miss Your Exit
Also if you overshoot/miss your exit don’t be an idiot and pull into the emergency lane and decide to back up on the highway going back to your intended exit as this is against the law as well as a very stupid move. Just drive down to the next exit, turn around and go back and remember that next time to be better prepared!
Turning/Merging from a Side Street/Stop Sign
There are two different ways that you need to learn for pulling out/merging from side streets.
The first way is when you are pulling out to make a right turn so for here take a quick look at the lane you will be pulling into and make sure there is nothing there that will cause you problems. Next look to the left for oncoming traffic and if all is clear then just pull out and go as right turns are easy.
Now it takes a little more effort when you want to make a left turn as you have two directions of traffic to worry about.
First look to the right so see if it is clear of any oncoming traffic/cars as you are not going anywhere until this lane is clear first. If it is clear then next look to the left to see if this lane of traffic is clear as well.
And if all looks good then before pulling out look one last time to the right and again if all is good then it is time to make you turn.
Get up to Speed
One simple note of caution is that when you do pull out do not I repeat do not putt putt along as your goal is to get up to the speed/flow of traffic as quickly as you can. If you don’t be forewarned that most often you will find another driver behind you has come up on your bumper and that’s when horns start blowing or you can see drivers behind you yelling all kinds of things at you. Getting your tail/car moving after making the turn will eliminate all of this unnecessary stuff!
Know When to Yield
Lastly and I know this has been a long article but one more thing you will need to be aware of is going through “yield” signs. When you are following another car through a yield sign do not take your eyes off of them until you see that they have actually completed the merge and are out onto the lane moving forward.
This is probably the number one area for rear end collisions in that you think, key word think, they have yielded and have moved through this area when in fact at the last second they decide to stop their car and decided not to go forward. In the meantime you — thinking they have proceeded — look back to your left to check the traffic flow before merging yourself and the next thing you know you are plowing into the rear end of the car in front of you that stopped!