Merging into Traffic

Posted on by Defensive Driving Team | in Helping You Drive Safely

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It can be a high anxiety situation, you’re trying to enter the freeway, cars on the freeway are whizzing by and you’re trying to keep an eye on the cars in front of you. Drivers in the cars behind you are eager for a chance to merge. It can be chaotic and you’re the one at the gate.

A merge is one of the highest risk maneuvers that you do as a driver. As a driver you have to pay attention to things happening in front of you, the things happening behind you, and the things happening two lanes to the left or two lanes to the right. This complicates things because as human beings we can really pay strict attention to only one thing at a time. The bottom line is that you have to prepare for a merge. To prepare for a merge well before you’re actually ready to merge, identify a gap between cars on the freeway where you can merge. Then, continue increasing your speed until you reach the gap you selected. Instead of increasing speed, drivers have a tendency to actually slow down before merging which is a big mistake. More crashes actually happen during merging than during passing.

Once on the freeway, adjust your speed to keep a cushion of space around your car. The closer you get to cars around you, the more they drive you rather than you driving yourself. Finally, once you’ve merged and adjusted your speed you probably will change lanes at some point. Look around you for a large enough space to move into. Use your mirrors. Turn your head to look quickly to the side before changing lanes. Then make your lane change.

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