Merging: you're doing it wrong

It's a major cause of collisions and frustration on Australian roads, but why do so many people get it wrong?

Merging 2 Jpg

Americans can do it, and so can the English. Germans, too, are very capable of doing it, even at top speed. 

Australians, though, are absolutely no good at it at all - and it's getting us all a bit hot under the collar.

According to Insurance Australia Group (IAG)'s archived research, over half of Australian drivers admit that they don't like merging with traffic.

Another 83 percent claimed to have experienced another driver’s poor merging technique. We’re assuming the remaining 17 percent don't drive very much...

Merging: you're doing it wrong

Let’s face it; a lot of Aussie drivers aren’t great at merging, which is why some cities rely on ridiculous traffic signals to separate cars.

But it’s not just freeway on-ramps where trouble occurs, with bottlenecks along main roads as traffic tries to feed right or left becoming 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 IAG's Robert McDonald. So what can we do better?

"Merge at a similar speed to the traffic you are merging with – this will make merging easier and assist with traffic flow," says McDonald. "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."

Drivers should never merge into another lane by crossing a solid line or a painted traffic island, and 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.

Merging: you're doing it wrong

For us, the notion of merging like a zipper is probably the single best piece of advice anyone could offer. It's also known as one-for-one, where cars in the traffic flow allow enough room for a single merging vehicle between them.

Merging zipper

Trailing car eases off the throttle, leading car merges one-for-one. Easy!

"Have your mirrors set so that you don’t have a mirror blind spot," adds professional driving instructor Ian Barratt. "At least match the speed of traffic you are merging with and pick your gap and stay with it."


Australian Capital Territory

Commonwealth Avenue in Canberra

Canberra Avenue in Fyshwick

Belconnen Way in Belconnen

New South Wales

M4 Motorway in Flemington

M4 Motorway in Parramatta

M4 Motorway in Wentworthville


Main Road in Sunnybank

Anne Street in Fortitude valley

Gold Coast Highway in Broadbeach

Western Australia

Albany Highway in Cannington

Nicholson Road in Canning Vale

Mitchell Freeway in Perth

South Australia

South Road in Edwardstown

Grand Junction Road in Gepps Cross

South Road in St Marys


Bell Street in Preston

Plenty Road in Bundoora

Warrigal Road in Chadstone

Any areas we've missed? And how do you rate your own merging form? Let us know below!


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