Lane Etiquette

Do you know how to safely merge, change lanes and enter a freeway – or are you that driver that causes gritting of teeth and frustration for other drivers as they ever so slowly sail onto the freeway to the sound of screeching brakes behind them?

Situations such as this can be the cause of very serious accidents – if the driver behind is not alert and able to react in time.

Some drivers are just, to put it plainly, inept – while others may interpret the rules of the road differently and unintentionally.

In Australia, we have two different types of merge. Firstly, the dotted line merge, which is when a lane comes to an end, and a dotted line separates the end of the lane and the entry into the next lane. This is like the highway onramps and offramps. In a dotted line merge, the car in the lane with the dotted line has to give way to the cars in the other lane. This means that even if you are a nose ahead of the car in the adjacent lane – you need to slow down and give way to this car. From an etiquette perspective – if you are the driver in the lane into which the dotted lane car is merging – it is really polite to speed up or slow down to make room for this driver. If you are merging, match the speed of the cars in the lane that you are merging into – don’t try to enter a freeway doing 40 km/h – you will be an accident waiting to happen. Try not to stop in the merging lane especially when you enter a freeway – you need to achieve the speed of the cars travelling on the freeway safely, within the distance available to you, without losing momentum while also timing the availability of a gap in the cars that you will be able to get into.

The other type of merge is where two lanes become one, and the dividing line stops. In this case, whoever in in front has right of way. Good etiquette in this situation is to take turns to merge – like a zipper.

As far as changing lanes is concerned – keep left and overtake right on multilane roads. On a highway, make sure to use the fast lane for overtaking and move back into the slow lane when safe to do so.