How To Merge Safely

Vince L. | July 8, 2014
Merging in Calgary can be one of the most difficult manoeuvres to perform while on your road test. Attending a driving school in Calgary is one of the best ways to learn how to properly and safely merge into another lane with other vehicles on the road. The rules imposed in Alberta for changing lanes are designed to maintain the safety of the driver and other vehicles on the road. Understanding these rules and procedures are essential to creating safe habits for drivers as they merge.

When everyone follows the rules properly accidents are more readily averted and results in increased awareness of all drivers on the road as they enter a weave zone. Following the rules of merging is the first step towards defensive driving skills.

Weave Zones

There are many weave zones in Calgary. Weave zones are areas in which drivers will need to use the same lane to exit the highway onto the deceleration lane and enter the high way from the acceleration lane. During rush hour and other high volume traffic times, weave zones have potential for seemingly small mistakes to cause accidents. Rush hour in Calgary typically begins around 3:30pm and depending on volume - ends around 6:30. On Fridays, Calgary's rush hour starts earlier due to earlier dismissal from work and school.

The importance of understanding how to navigate weave zones cannot be understated, as most highways involve entering and exiting via a weave zone.

Lane Changes

As difficult as merging can be, it can be even trickier to complete a proper lane change. In Calgary, especially during rush hour, lane changes can occur at any time - unlike a merge which is situated at designated zones where all drivers are aware that merging will occur. Various driving challenges exist at all times but can be amplified during a lane change where quick reaction time is required; blind spots, sun light, or low visibility make it difficult for you to see the vehicles around you. The same is also true for the drivers sharing the road with you.

Understanding proper lane change procedures can dramatically reduce the risk of collisions for the driver by giving them the proper awareness. Experience in lane changing can also tell drivers when other vehicles are preparing for a lane change giving you the time to move out of the way or adjust your speed to allow the other vehicle a smooth transition.

Proper merging, lane change, and weave zone procedures and tips:

  • Check your rear-view-mirror first, then check your side-view-mirrors, and then shoulder check when changing lanes. This allows you to view any vehicle behind you that may also be lane changing or vehicles accelerating behind you obstructing your lane change, then check side view for vehicles in the lane you are attempting to transition to, and finally a shoulder check to observe your blind spot.

  • Do not leave too much time in between your shoulder check and lane switch. The longer you wait, the higher the chances that a vehicle will be in your blind spot that was not there before.

  • Your signal light is an important tool for displaying your intentions for merging and lane changing; the longer your signal light is on the more time other drivers have to see and react to your lane change. Give others a chance to accommodate your lane change. Chances are if they are not letting you into the lane they did not understand your intentions to change lanes.

  • Acceleration lanes are designed for drivers who are merging into the highway to adjust their speed to the speed of the other vehicles currently travelling on the highway. Usually in this situation, both the driver on the acceleration lane and the driver on the merging lane have equal rights.

  • Deceleration lanes are designed for drivers who are exiting the highway to go onto slower secondary roads. Drivers need to use this lane to slow down until they are at a safe speed to merge.

  • Weave zones are daunting for new drivers. Those who are new to Alberta roads must remember application of the gas pedal can keep you safe just as much as applying the brake pedal when it comes to weave zones; it depends on if you are entering or exiting the highway. When entering a weave zone to get onto the highway, drivers wanting to accelerate sometimes cannot due to traffic. Just be cautious, because the drivers on the highway may want to get off of the highway and into your lane. Once there is enough room for you to move into the proper lane, do the proper lane changing procedure, and pay special attention to the vehicles ahead of you in case the try to make a sudden stop. Only switch lanes when there is enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to apply your breaks without hitting them. Likewise when you need to exit the lane make sure you focus on the car directly in front of you, chances are the driver in front of you also needs to slow down in order to exit the highway.

  • Always be courteous to vehicles changing lanes. This doesn't mean you have to stop for them but use your judgement and help to make the busy commute a smooth and safe one for yourself and your fellow motorists.

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