AUTO INSURANCE

HIGHWAY DRIVING ETIQUETTE

A Canadian Direct Insurance Claim:

A Canadian Direct customer was trying to merge onto Hwy #1. As a car in front of him was stopped, trying to merge with traffic, the customer stopped as well. He was then hit from behind. Fortunately, he was not pushed into the vehicle in front of him.

Could This Accident Have Been Avoided?

Ahh - one of my pet peeves - people who stop on highway entrance ramps when trying to merge with traffic.

Please, please, don't do that. Not only is it going to be very difficult for you to merge into traffic on the freeway, but as this claim demonstrates, it's downright dangerous.

If the traffic on the freeway is moving at 90Km/h, then the gap between vehicles - the space you need to merge into - is also moving at 90Km/h. It's very difficult to move into a gap moving 90Km/h from a standing start.

So, if you accelerate up to 90Km/h on the entrance ramp, it will be fairly easy to slip (merge) into the gap between vehicles - and the freeway traffic.

Remember though, as a vehicle trying to merge onto the freeway, you can't just barge your way in. I've seen some drivers who think that they should be able to just push their way into line. No way. If you're accelerating along the entrance ramp, look for a gap between vehicles. That's yours. Adjust your speed so you merge into that gap.

And if you're on the freeway with a vehicle trying to merge from the right, help make that gap easier to slip into. This doesn't mean slamming on the brakes - just ease off the gas slightly. And it doesn't mean tightening up the gap to keep them out!

Of course, if you're in the right lane and notice traffic trying to merge from an entrance ramp, move into the left lane if possible. Then get back into the right lane if you're not passing someone.

That last line is critical. If you are not passing another vehicle, stay in the right lane. If everyone would move to the right lane when not passing, freeway traffic would move a lot better. I know it's not a law everywhere, but it's certainly an "unwritten law." And a strong recommendation.

It doesn't matter how fast you're driving either. It's just good common courtesy to travel in the right lane except when passing. More problems are caused by drivers who feel it is their right to drive in the left lane no matter how much traffic they are holding up behind them. Often, they think they are doing the world a favour by "enforcing" their speed limit on everyone else. Leave that to the police.

I don't recommend exceeding the speed limit. However, I also don't try to force my speed on everyone else by blocking traffic in the left lane. All that does is make everyone frustrated and angry. Then there is no telling what they might do to get by.

Try to be consistent with your speed. It surprises me how often, when I pull out to pass another car, the driver suddenly speeds up to match my speed. There we are, two cars side-by-side, blocking traffic behind…

When leaving the freeway, don't start slowing down for an exit while travelling in the right lane. Wait until you can move onto the off-ramp or exit lane before reducing your speed. There will be plenty of room to slow down.

One last thing. Please use your turn signals when changing lanes.

As you can see, freeway driving takes some thought - usually a lot more than most people give it. Think about which is the best lane to be in, how to enter and exit in a way that least affects everyone else, and keep an eye on your speed. It will make freeway traffic flow much better for everyone.

Now, you may be a very good freeway driver. Then again, you may not be; you might not be paying enough attention to notice. Take time to notice and then do something about it. Or, perhaps you should make a copy of this article. Then, if you see someone making any of the above mistakes, give it to them. Your fellow freeway-users will thank you!

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