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The Freeway Merge Sign Is By Your Lane Because It's Your Job

Another entry in the Average Driver's Guide to Not Driving Like a Jerk.

Ask several people to raise their hands if they think they're above-average drivers, and most everyone will have a hand in the air. Obviously, at least half of them are wrong. In fact, given the bell-shaped nature of normal distributions, we know that a lot more than half are wrong and about 70 percent of drivers are clustered somewhere between one standard deviation above or below the mean. Only about 15 percent of drivers truly qualify as "above average" or better—which is to say chances are that you're actually an average driver, or worse. Even if you're not—and you're totally not—five out of every six of your friends are, so share this advice with those who need it. Here we present another installment of the Average Driver's Guide to Not Driving Like a Jerk; read what the guide has to say on turn signals here and on what to do when your lane is ending here.

The freeway merge can best be thought of as a special case of the lane-is-ending merge we linked above, because the lane you're in (the on ramp) is a lane that's about to end. Which means you need to change lanes. Which means the traffic already on the freeway has the right of way. Which means it's on you to get to the merge point at a speed and trajectory that's complementary to the flow of traffic.

"How am I supposed to do that?!" asks Average Alice. "What, am I supposed to be psychic? How could I possibly know how fast I need to go on the on-ramp to merge with traffic?" Well, Alice, it's simple: you turn your head and look. Yes, your neck, which works perfectly well to bend down and look at your phone, can also rotate left and right. If you try this, you'll be amazed by the results: a whole world of other cars and drivers await you just outside your window. Here is the point we also advise you to adjust your side mirrors properly; to do so does not mean you should be viewing the side of your car. Instead, the mirror should provide you a good look at the lane beside you where a car could lurk.

It's really that simple. Look. Accelerate (or decelerate if in heavy traffic), assess the spacing in the lane beside you, and make the merge when clear.