How Do I Merge Into Traffic Correctly?

Funny how some seasoned drivers, and by seasoned I mean drivers who have been driving for decades, still get nervous when merging into traffic or changing lanes.

If you lack the courage to merge, this primer from auto insurance professionals on how to do it safely will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to your list of must-reads on traffic safety.

How to Merge Into Another Lane Correctly

When is it appropriate to merge?

Pay attention to how traffic moves on the road. Take your time and signal before you merge so other drivers will be aware of your intentions. Before determining the exact moment to make your merge, take a quick look in all of your mirrors and check your blind spot. At this point, the flow of traffic will have subsided sufficiently for you to leave a safe distance between you and the cars in front of and behind you. You can start to move into the next lane when there is a gap at least twice the length of your car by matching or traveling far enough above the speed of other drivers to gain access to it.

What if it doesn’t stop moving?

You can ask the other drivers for access into the lane if heavy traffic doesn’t stop and the cars are moving slowly enough. You can do this by asking the next driver to let you in with hand signals or, if traffic is moving very slowly, by lowering your car window.

For the driver who merges, are there any exceptions to the rules of the road?

No way! Recall that everyone on the road, including the driver merging, is required to follow the law. Legislators enacted traffic regulations to lower the likelihood of collisions. For you, this entails, among other things, abiding by the posted speed limits, giving way to pedestrians, and never crossing a solid white line.

Anything else that I should be on the lookout for as I merge?

Keep a gap of 2-3 seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you when merging. This makes it easier for you to merge into traffic so that you won’t need to suddenly slow down and risk colliding with vehicles behind you that might not be ready for the change in speed.

What happens right after the merge?

Keep in mind to disengage your turn signal, change your speed to match the flow of traffic, and maintain the proper space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Show others the same courtesy they have shown you by being understanding of their situation, just as they have shown it to you.