Merging Lanes Safely

Merging Lanes Safely… 4 min read

Merging collisions are more common than drivers realize. Gracious driving is the key to avoiding accidents and making merging safer on the roads. Ever tried merging lanes, one lane at a time? Or merging across multiple lanes? Or merging onto the highways? Exercise caution during merging, avoiding impromptu or drag races. Stay vigilant of your surroundings, refrain from sudden lane swerving, and adhere to road rules to maximise safety on the road. Some of these points may seem obvious. Yet, why is it still so challenging? It is all about driving behaviour and changing attitudes on the road. This is easier said than done, in a high-stress city traffic environment with impatient drivers. But change in attitude must start somewhere. The onus is on us, not the other driver, to avoid accidents. Be gracious, and let it begin with us. So, the next time you see others wanting to merge in front of you, let them in.

No one in their right mind ever wants to be caught in an accident. Merging is challenging mainly because some drivers do not signal their intentions early and cut lanes while others speed up to close the gap, preventing a smooth merge.

Here are pointers for smoother merging in different scenarios: When merging into another lane, you must give way to anyone who is in the lane you are moving into and you must indicate for a reasonable amount of time to warn other people that you intend to cross into their lane. Merging rules vary, depending on the existence or non-existence of line markings. When there is no centre line or a segregated line at the merging point, the absence of lane markings dictates that, at the end of the lane, you are required to give way to any vehicle that is in front of your vehicle.

Lane Changing (one lane at a time):

  • Maintain or match the speed of traffic in the lane you intend to merge into.
  • Ensure a sufficient space of recommended 3-5 seconds for a safe merge, allowing space for the vehicle behind you and in front of you.
  • Before merging, check your blind spot at least twice to ensure there is ample space for a successful merge.
  • Only change lanes when it is legally permitted, typically indicated by dashed white lines between traffic lanes.
  • Use your turn signal several seconds before merging to notify other drivers of your intention to change lanes.
  • Stay alert and attentive to prevent distractions when merging or changing lanes.
  • Check your rear mirror, and give the driver a wave to let you in. Encouraging good habits starts with us.

Cutting Across (multiple lanes):

Follow the same sequence above. The danger lies not only in the cars in the lane you are merging into, but the vehicle behind you.

  • It is important to start your exercise by indicating before you begin any manoeuvres. In this scenario, it is to reduce the possibility of the vehicle overtaking when you cut across multiple lanes.
  • Anticipate your actions. Observe the lane you intend to merge into, identify a safe gap, and seamlessly enter at a consistent speed with other drivers.
  • Avoid sudden braking or neglecting to monitor the surrounding traffic, as these actions may lead to accidents. Remain vigilant about merging traffic, allowing enough space for a safe entry.
  • Remember that merging traffic has to give way to you. If merging traffic is slowing down to give way to you, maintain your speed to prevent confusion and potential accidents. Maintain a speed that allows for smooth merging without abrupt changes to your driving pattern.

Lane Merge (for example, entering a highway):

  • When merging into heavy and congested traffic, an unspoken courtesy guideline follows a one-to-one rule, allowing one vehicle at a time to merge from a merging lane.
  • If the driver in the lane you’re merging into does not want to let you in, remember it’s within their right not to do so. When there are marked lines at the merging point, let other vehicles proceed and merge in behind them.
  • If faced with discourteous drivers in congested traffic, remain calm and allow them to go ahead of you. It is preferable to let them be in front rather than engaging in aggressive behaviour or pushing behind you.
  • When exiting the highway, plan your route to avoid sudden lane changes. If you miss an exit, continue driving and take the next available exit to ensure a safe and controlled transition.


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