So, today we’ll be talking about merging onto highways. A fair number of problems on the highway could be solved if people knew how to merge properly. The rest are fixed through knowing proper lane assignments.
Here, I’m just going to talk about regular highway merging. Construction zone merging and other such stuff can be solved in sentences, not pictures: take turns and don’t be the dick that tries to speed to the front of the line. It’s still going to take forever no matter where you are.
Back to my point. In essence, merging is just changing lanes. Only difference is that your lane is ending soon.
Let’s just start with some basics. For the love of all that is holy, DO NOT TRY TO MERGE ONTO A HIGHWAY GOING 45 MILES PER HOUR!!!!!!! (unless traffic is moving slow, then fine, but under normal circumstances, don’t ever do that. It doesn’t work and pisses off everyone else trying to merge behind you.)
So, let’s diagram this.
If you happen to be the white or blue car in this situation, move into the other lane. It’s common courtesy to move out of the lane that people are trying to merge into when you can. You then move back into the right lane once you’ve passed the merging cars.
If you are the black or red car in this situation, your goal is to get up to speed. The purpose of an on-ramp is to give you ample time to get up to highway speeds… so use it! It is so aggravating to be behind someone cruising down the on-ramp at a steady 40 mph when traffic is clearly going 20mph faster.
Now, if merging was always that simple, there would be no need for this post and life wouldn’t suck. Well, that’s a bit of a stretch, but still.
“difficult” merging doesn’t have to be that difficult. As you probably didn’t notice, there is no speed limit and no one has an indicated speed. These rules apply at any speed. Whether traffic is steadily moving at 55, 65, or 6 miles per hour (though I doubt there’d be gaps going 6 mph) these are rules to go by to assure a safe merge.
At the number 1 diamond thing, you want to be checking the road. Quick glances at the lane of interest are best–don’t run off the road, that’s bad. It’s the “gathering intel” stage of the merge.
Orange diamond number 2 is planning. *start signalling* After you have collected information about the lane, it is time to adjust your speed (reasonably… not slowing down to 30 until something opens up) so that you can seamlessly move into the space that you found.
Several spaces are circled in magenta (or pink for those who didn’t grow up with a 64 box of crayola crayons). Some of them are a bit tight, others have more space. Depending on the size of your car, you should plan to hit one spot over another.
Again, the people in the right lane have responsibilities too. Driving is a group activity as much as each of us doesn’t want it to be. The green car is able to move into the left, so it should do so. The other cars are unable to move into the left lane, but they can still slow down or speed up to create openings for cars merging into the lane. (some people don’t appreciate when you allow them to merge in front of you though… I’ve gotten the middle finger for doing this. I hate people.)
Anywho, it’s a bit of a difficult dance sometimes when merging into heavy traffic. Some people merging don’t get the hint that there is a space being created next to them that they can easily take, and then there’s people that for some reason will not for the life of them have someone merge in front of them. Other times no one is cooperating and you basically have to cut someone off to get on the highway (D.C., I’m looking at you.)