Learn how to Merge on the Highways!

Highway Driving and the Art of the Merge

mergingHello all!

Having spent another two and a half hours on the Trans Canada Highway on the edge of my seat, waiting for a crash to happen in front of me, I feel the need to comment on the sad lack of merging skills on the part of drivers using the highways in this province.  We have travelled to many parts of Canada, many of which have much more complicated multi-lane highway systems, and have never seen the like of what happens here when drivers are required to come  off of an access ramp and merge into traffic.

The idea of merging is to facilitate the smooth transitioning of traffic from feeder roads into the mainstream of highway traffic.  The process sounds simple.  The merging driver proceeds up the access ramp towards the highway, accelerates up to the posted highway speed, then when the ramp transitions into the merge lane adjacent to the right highway lane, the driver either accelerates or decelerates  to “fit” his vehicle in between the oncoming traffic.  Not rocket science, right?  The department of highways has even made it simpler for drivers by painting the left curb white on the access ramps at the point where one should start to accelerate up to speed, approaching the merge.

What most intelligent drivers do is assess the oncoming traffic flow as he starts to enter the access ramp.  Usually he can see pretty far back by glancing over his  shoulder or viewing the road behind him in the left side view mirror.  He can then estimate where he will need to fit his car in and can decide whether he needs to either speed up or slow down to merge.  What happens here in Newfoundland is that people get anxious and usually slow down, so that when they actually get into the right highway lane, they are moving at 20 to thirty kilometers/hr slower than the traffic behind them, and these drivers end up having to either slow down, brake, or pass.  I have actually seen countless times, the driver in the merge lane come to a dead stop because he has not correctly assessed the situation, and panics or is unable to make the decision to proceed, and so chooses to stop dead in the middle of the road, causing the traffic behind him in the merge lane to have to do likewise, or if the merge lane is long enough, complete the merge themselves, to avoid a rear-end collision.

Quite often, in Newfoundland, you see drivers travelling in the right side lane of the highway move over into the left lane when approaching a merge, so as to give the merging driver room to move safely into traffic. This is a courtesy, not the law as some drivers think.  The onus is on the merging driver to take steps to enter the oncoming traffic.  Quite often there are vehicles travelling in the outside (left or passing lane), making it impossible for the right lane driver to move over.  I have seen many merging driver flipping off right lane drivers for not moving out into the left lane when in fact, they themselves are at fault for not merging properly.

Thank God that most drivers on our highways are aware of what is going on around them, and only for their taking preventative measures, there would be many more accidents and fatalities.  Our daughter only recently learned to drive, and went to Young Driver’s of Canada for her formal training.  I made sure that she got lots of experience driving on the highway and merging in the year I drove with her while she was learning.  She has no problems with the process or anxiety on having to merge because she has been taught properly.  Unfortunately, it is quite often the older drivers here, who, living in rural areas, are not familiar with high speed highways or complicated roadway systems, and get into trouble with highway driving.  You see gramps and grandma mucking along at 70 km/hr when the speed limit is 100, and cars are passing them at such speeds that it just about blows the paint off their cars.  The “youngsters” are almost as bad, tearing along at 150, sounding like a swarm of killer bees…………and don’t even get me started on the big-ass pickups!!!!

Highway driving would be so much more relaxing if people would just chill out and follow the rules of the road.  We might even get to use our cruise control, rather than to have to be braking or speeding up all the time to avoid the assholes.  With all of the accident investigations we do through our business for the constabulary and the RCMP, every time someone blows by us on the highway  doing 150 plus, our first thoughts are “Yup, see ya later buddy, on your roof in a ditch!”

Cheers!  Drive safely, arrive alive!norma in yellow circlemerging 4merging 2merging 5

P.S. Leave me a comment!  Please tell me which post you are commenting on as they all default to the last post, thanks!

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