How to Merge with Heavy Traffic

Merging from lane to lane in heavy traffic, or even onto a highway, can be unnerving if you don't have a plan. It can also be dangerous if not implemented with caution. Once you have learned the steps it takes to merge with heavy traffic, the maneuver will not be so stressful, and you can be confident that your merge will be safe.


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    Anticipate your decision to merge early on by evaluating the traffic in the lane you plan on merging on to. Don't leave it until the last minute or you may cause an accident because you have to rush your merging steps, assuming you have left yourself time to do them.
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    Check the traffic for gaps in which you can strategically merge your vehicle into. Take into account the speed of traffic, and determine the safest time to merge.
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    Don't forget to signal so that the drivers around you will know that you intend on changing lanes. Again, don't leave this until the last minute. You want the drivers to have enough time to see and react to your signal. Don't assume that the second you turn the signal on, they will notice it, and you can merge.
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    Make a habit of checking your mirror every time you change busy traffic lanes. Check the mirrors first to get an idea of what is going on behind you, and then check them right before you merge. Don't forget to turn your head and glance at your blind spot before the merge. This should be the last thing you do before changing lanes.
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    Ease over to the next lane once you have determined that it is safe to do so if you are changing from lane to lane. Allow the car to merge at a relaxed pace. Do not turn the wheel abruptly so you can rush into a space as this may alarm other drivers into making sudden maneuvers for fear that you might hit them. You may be confident that you can make the move safely, but they have no idea what you are planning on doing, or even if you have a plan at all.
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    Accelerate gradually if you are merging into heavy traffic from an access ramp, and make sure that you are at a safe distance from both the car in front and behind you. Use the acceleration lane to build your speed to match the speed of the flowing traffic. Once you move into the available gap, match the speed of traffic.
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    Remember to turn off your indicator signal once you have completed your merge. If not, the drivers around you will assume you are moving to the next lane over. Don't forget that others drivers cannot read your mind and that your signal is your communication tool.
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    Follow these same steps if you plan on moving on to another lane. Do not cross more than one lane at a time.

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Categories: Driving Techniques