Merging lanes is a task that drivers in Perth encounter nearly every day. This seemingly simple task can be fraught with peril, though, if you don’t do it correctly. Once you understand the basic rules surrounding merging, you can make the process easier for both yourself and other drivers around you. It’s not a hard concept to follow and won’t require a defensive driving course to master, but it’s often a skill many drivers pay little attention to.
Here’s how to do it right.
Basic Merging Rules for WA
Merging occurs when two lanes converge into one.
When this happens, vehicles in the lane that is ending should always give way to drivers in the other lane. As you merge, aim to slide in behind the vehicle in front of you; don’t speed up to try to get in front of them.
In heavier traffic conditions, merging cars should follow a pattern like a zipper, taking turns moving forward in the lane. Do your best to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you and make sure you follow all appropriate WA road rules. The last thing you want is to slam into the back of them if they need to hit their brakes unexpectedly.
Get up to Speed Before Merging
To make merging easier for everyone involved, it is always a good idea to try to match your speed to the legal speed of the road you are merging into.
For example, if you are trying to merge onto the Mitchell freeway, accelerate to match the speed of traffic as quickly as you safely can; don’t try to cut in at 30 km/h when the rest of the cars are driving at 90 km/h. This is even more important when driving on country WA roads as the speed limit is typically higher and some roads are unsealed.
If you are exiting, wait until you have pulled into the exit lane before slowing down to avoid causing a backup for those staying on the freeway. Exit lanes are designed to give you plenty of space to slow down once you are safely off the freeway.
While it can sometimes be difficult to merge during peak hours with heavy traffic, do your best not to slow down or stop in the merging lane to wait for an opening. Without enough speed and momentum, it is unlikely that you will be able to find a large enough gap to get your car in without cutting anyone off. Once in the lane, keep a safe stopping distance between you and the car in front to allow for easier merging by other cars.
Always Indicate When Merging
It should go without saying, but it is amazing how many drivers neglect this simple rule: always use your indicators to let other drivers know what you are trying to do. Even when it is obvious that two lanes are combining into one, it is still important to use your indicators to alert any drivers who may not be paying full attention.
To see how merging works in action, check out this helpful video:
Penalties for Not Merging Correctly
In WA, you can be penalised for not following these merging best practices. Driving unsafely can result in hefty fines and could even cause you to lose your licence. In Perth, the penalties are as follows:
- Failing to give way whilst merging: $100 fine and 2 demerit points on your licence
- Failing to give way whilst changing lanes: $100 fine and 3 demerit points on your licence
Not only can merging incorrectly result in fines and demerits, but it can also cause an accident, which will cost you even more.
Brush Up Your Merging Skills
Whether you are a new driver or have been driving for years, it can always be helpful to give yourself a bit of a refresher.
At Eclipse Driving School, we are proud to offer driving lessons for both new, experienced and corporate drivers. We’ll help you learn how to merge correctly to ensure you are driving as safely as possible. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our driving courses and make your reservation.