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Merging Properly onto Our Highways: Is it a Lost Art?

September 22, 2010 1 comment

Does this driving behavior make you feel like this?

Today, as I was returning back to the office from my lunch break, I encountered a very common problem — a female driver who didn’t know how to properly merge onto the highway.  I got so angry at her apparent lack of driving skills, I didn’t know what to do!  

Here’s what she did — and this is soooo classic — instead of yielding to the driver getting off the highway (me), she decides to speed up, pass me on the right (on a short exit ramp!) and merge onto the highway ahead of me, despite the fact that I was going a little too fast for that, both of us are running out of exit ramp (!), and there was a large slowish moving vehicle in front of me.  What she should have done was to yield and then merge in behind me when it was safe to do so. 

This is really a problem that I’m noticing more and more.  And, quite frankly, it’s got me worried for my safety.  For some reason, many people do not seem to realize that: 

  • exiting vehicles have the right of way by law
  • entering vehicles are supposed to YIELD to exiting vehicles
  • entering vehicles are not to attempt to pass vehicles on the right as exiting vehicles are trying to complete their exit

Roileen Miller of Miller Driving School gave some useful merging pointers on the Road Warrior blog, including that drivers should use their signals and that entering vehicles should check their blindspots for exiting vehicles and merge accordingly.

Here is what I’ve noticed: when I wait an extra second before signaling my intent to exit, most drivers will assume I am continuing on the highway, yield, and just merge into traffic behind me.  However, if I signal before that, there is confusion because other drivers may not yield to me otherwise.  To mitigate this problem, I try to signal at a precise time that safely alerts others I am about to exit, just before I am about to pass the merging vehicle while they are still on the exit ramp.  

Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  She probably passed you like that because you drive like a grandma!  Au contraire!  Those who have ridden with me will tell you I most certainly do not drive like a grandma. 

Unfortunately, many drivers these days tend to do exactly what that lady did to me today — although most of them do not go to such great lengths as to actually attempt to pass me on the right before merging!      

What do you think about this behavior?  Do you drive just like that lady?  Or does this kind of unsafe, illegal driving tick you off, too?  Tell me, and please feel free to share this blog post/site with others!

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