Tag Archives: ICBC road safety

Driving Me Crazy: Merging

I would love to have a job where I didn’t commute. This is the place (the road) where the self-centeredness of people becomes evident, and aggressive, distracted or stupid moves can be worth someone’s life.

Today’s aggravation is merging and merge lanes. A merge lane has one of two signs (in BC). One will say “Merge.” The other will show two lanes merging into one. The protocol, the rule, the law (in some areas), in fact,  good common sense says to do the following.

Merge does not mean come to a full dead stop. Merge does not mean follow the car right in front of you and butt in too. Merge does not mean cut off a person merging into the traffic flow. Notice that word “flow.” Merge lanes are designed to try to keep the traffic flow steady. Many areas are now extending those merge lanes even farther. The Number 1 Highway between Kensington and Gaglardi (Greater Vancouver) and along the I405 (Seattle and surrounding areas) have lengthened merge lanes to try and alleviate traffic flow problems.

Merging means oncoming traffic and merging traffic alternates, one by one into the flow. If you’re on the highway and in the right-hand lane, you have two choices: either move into the left-hand lane to facilitate the merging people, or slow down so that they can merge without crashing into you. Speeding up and driving side by side is pigheaded and stupid. Pay attention to what traffic is doing and try and make it a dance, not a traffic accident.

If you are the person merging, then merge, slowly, safely, coming up to speed if possible. Don’t stop but continue pulling ahead in the merge lane, shoulder checking and looking in your sideview mirror. Do not merge at the very entrance where the ramp joins the highway, but continue pulling ahead in the merge lane. This does two things: alerts the cars on the highway that you are merging and allows for the flow of the cars behind you who then won’t be backed up and stopped. It completely wrecks the flow if someone decides to merge too soon onto the main thoroughfare.

Traffic going east on the number 1 where it went from North Vancouver over the Ironworkers’ Memorial Bridge into Vancouver is the only place where I’ve ever seen merging work flawlessly. People do that commute everyday. Whether they still merge politely, I don’t know. Sometimes there is just too much traffic for the flow to be anything but slow, in the merge lane or on the highway. But if people try to pay attention, to alternate cars from both lanes and adjust their driving accordingly, it will certainly keep the pace going much better and keep tempers down. Presume that it’s the law to be polite and then just try it for fun.

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