How to merge lanes correctly

By David Bonnici, 11 Aug 2016 Car Advice

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Sign showing motorists how to merge

A major cause of collisions and frustration on Australian roads is people having trouble merging with traffic.

According to Insurance Australia Group (IAG) research, just over half (54 per cent) of Australian drivers admitted having trouble merging with traffic. Another 83 per cent claimed to have experienced another driver’s poor merging technique. We’re assuming the remaining 17 per cent live in the remote parts of Aus.

Let’s face it; a lot of Aussie drivers aren’t great at merging, which is why some cities have ridiculous traffic signals to separate cars. But it’s not just freeway on-ramps where trouble occurs, with bottlenecks along main roads being hot spots for merging-related collisions.

According to IAG, the worst spots in Australia for merging related accidents include:

  • Commonwealth Avenue in Canberra
  • Main Road, Sunnybank near Brisbane
  • South Road, Edwardstown in Adelaide
  • Bell Street, Preston in Melbourne
  • Albany Highway in Cannington in Perth
  • Sydney’s M4 motorway at Flemington, Parramatta, Wentworthville and Silverwater 

Cars merging on a freeway

The biggest issue is drivers being too slow when attempting to merge, says Robert McDonald, the head of research at the IAG Research Centre, who offers the following advice:

  • Merge at a similar speed to the traffic you are merging with – this will make merging easier and assist with traffic flow
  • Avoid stopping in the merging lane, particularly when entering freeways. If you stop, you’ll lose speed and it’ll be difficult to find a gap large enough for your car to get momentum. 
  • When turning left into a multi-lane road that has a merging lane, use it. Don’t wait to cross over to the lane you want to be in
  • Always check your mirrors and blind spots before merging and use your indicators
  • Never merge into another lane by crossing a solid line or a painted traffic island
  • When a lane is closed because of a car accident or construction, move into the moving lane as soon as possible so traffic doesn’t have to stop to let cars trying to merge at the last minute
  • Cross one lane at a time
  • Merge like a zip – one car from each lane at a time.
  • When leaving a freeway or road with an off ramp or separate turning lane, don’t slow down until you’ve entered that lane. They are designed to enter at the speed limit.

TOP 3 MERGING COLLISION LOCATIONS IN EACH STATE

Australian Capital Territory

1 Commonwealth Avenue in Canberra

2 Canberra Avenue in Fyshwick

3 Belconnen Way in Belconnen

New South Wales

1 M4 Motorway in Flemington

2 M4 Motorway in Parramatta

3 M4 Motorway in Wentworthville

Queensland

1 Main Road in Sunnybank

2 Anne Street in Fortitude valley

3 Gold Coast Highway in Broadbeach

Western Australia

1 Albany Highway in Cannington

2 Nicholson Road in Canning Vale

3 Mitchell Freeway in Perth

South Australia

1 South Road in Edwardstown

2 Grand Junction Road in Gepps Cross

3 South Road in St Marys

Victoria

1 Bell Street in Preston

2 Plenty Road in Bundoora

3 Warrigal Road in Chadstone