Driving 101:  How to Merge Onto the Interstate

Since moving to Nashville I have been taken by surprise the number of people who think that traffic on the Interstate is supposed to stop to let them on.  These people are not just irritated but totally appalled that traffic will not stop for them to get on.  Merging requires responsibility of BOTH drivers on and entering the roadway but never does it state that drivers on the interstate are supposed to stop.  Here are the correct rules about merging onto the interstate:

  1. If you are merging onto the highway, make sure you are going the same speed as the traffic on the highway.  That’s why it’s called the “acceleration lane” so you can gain speed where you’re entering the highway.  
  2. Put on your turn signal.  I know it sounds pretty obvious but the signal will get the attention of other driver’s of what you intend to do.  However, keep in mind that as the person merging, you do NOT have the right of way.  Other drivers are not expected to move out of the way.  It’s up to you to adjust your speed.
  3. Look for a gap in traffic.  Merge when you find a gap to safely do so.  Some think you are supposed to use all of the accerlation lane before you get over.  The rule is to get over when it is safe to do so.
  4. If you are on the highway, be alert to merging traffic.  Don’t be a jerk.  Create gaps in front and behind you.   This isn’t a competition or NASCAR event.  Ease off the gas a bit is someone is trying to merge onto traffic or speed up if that is the safer option.

Merging traffic does not have the right of way when entering the highway.  Many drivers are unaware that drivers currently on the highway have the right of way over cars entering it.  It is not the job of cars already on the highway to make room for cars entering.  If you happen to be entering one those lanes where the same lane is used for both entering and exiting the highway, the cars exiting the highway have the right of way over cars entering the highway.

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