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An Excerpt from The Regional Life
Brian W. Porter
Driving around the Northeast as I do, I cannot believe the number of people who do not understand how to merge onto a limited access roadway properly. People will crawl up to where they must enter the road and then look to see if there is room. I have seen people ease around the bend of the ramp, stop to look, and then try to gain enough speed to enter the roadway. I have seen people just ease onto the road without looking as if they expect everybody else to watch for them. I had one person, drunk at the time, come off the ramp and cross the right lane to bounce off my tandems, the trailer tires, when I was in the center lane. These are all good ways to rent a hospital bed. When you enter a limited access highway with on- and off-ramps, or change lanes on any road, you must fit into the flow of traffic and not cut anyone off; the traffic does not fit around you. Most on-ramps have an acceleration lane, that lane next to the travel lanes, which is where you pick up speed to match the speed of the highway traffic. The person who enters the big road from a ramp, or changes lanes, must yield to the traffic already in the travel lane as much as possible. This means you round the bend of the ramp, climb, or descend the hill slowly enough so if grandma (who is scared to death of the high-speed big-road and should use the skinny roads) comes to a stop, you can too. You must look before you reach the acceleration lane, preferably when you can first see traffic out your window or in your mirror, and decide where you are going to merge. The driver on the ramp must accelerate to match the flow of traffic in the next lane, as nearly as possible. Once you are at speed on the ramp, and before you reach the end, you move into traffic, and then back off slightly to get your following distance if you must. If traffic is slow and the lane is clear, you may move in front of an approaching vehicle at a faster speed and keep to that speed, or continue to accelerate. These instructions are for the major limited access highways only, the Intrastate and Interstates. On the local roads, those with businesses and stores and houses, where every street is an intersection, the roads that truck drivers refer to as skinny no matter how wide they are, those intersections are too small. If the road is not clear--you stop. Many years ago, a driver from New Jersey told me, "Wait 'til the end of the ramp or the lane ends and then go over. That way they have to let you in." Not
only is this not true, it is dangerous. No matter what any written or unwritten law says, there are many times when a car or truck cannot move over because of an obstacle. It is the responsibility of the driver who enters a roadway or changes lanes to fit in with the traffic already in that lane. The earlier you do this, the better. For the same reason, you do not wait until you move into the travel lane to accelerate to highway speed if it is at all possible. To enter a limited access highway too slowly is a dangerous situation. Most vehicles travel at seventy miles-per-hour or more along the big road. Any time you travel at a speed much slower than the speed limit, you risk a collision with those who travel with the flow of traffic. Unfortunately, there is nothing a truck driver can do to avoid that slow speed, especially a heavy truck on an up-slope. If you see a bigtruck try to enter from a ramp, it helps if you give them a bit of extra room. I try to move over when I approach an on-ramp if any type of traffic is on it, especially if they use a turn signal. Sometimes, however, I have someone beside me and I cannot move. At those times, you will just have to work around me. *** Other short stories, essays, and poetry from this author are available at http://www.scribd.com/Brian%20W%20Porter. *** Copyright 2010 Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs You may share this work with anyone in any way with the following provisions. You must share the complete work, including the title and this notice. You may not make any changes. You may not use this work commercially or accept payment without the written permission of the Author. Any and all rights and credit are held by Brian W. Porter.