Best way to merge left?

I have a question. When merging left from a lane that ends at the right, do people merge as soon as possible or wait until the last minute when the right lane ends? I always merge ASAP to avoid stress, but I see plenty of people merging at the last minute. Is there a right way and wrong way, or no?

I usually merge as soon as safe, but at times have half merged to keep the lane runners to get their jollies from passing us kind considerate people.


Better for traffic to use all available lanes and “zipper” merge at the end. But many people don’t like to do that.


90% of my driving is a semi truck, I merge ASAP mainly because cars don’t want a truck in front of them making it tough to zipper in.

Here in the greater Seattle area it’s getting to where people have the “You ain’t getting in front of me” attitude.

But like @texases said, the best and proper way is to use the lane and zipper in at the end.


Too many variables for a blanket statement.
In a perfect world, which Captains Kirk and Picard never found, zipper method would be great.
I use I-95 on a daily basis, some drivers do not accelerate on the on-ramp to merge correctly.

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The key is to perform your merge in the way that would be the safest–given the situation in which the driver finds himself. The best (safest) way to merge can potentially be somewhat different every time that you drive.

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Our mndot says use zipper merge. Use both lanes. All of both lanes. Helps if mergee would slow 2 mph and let merger in. Don’t be a jerk.

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… and/or, whenever possible, the mergee should perform a complimentary lane change in order to allow the merger to safely enter the roadway.

Unfortunately, there are jerks out there on the road, so every situation has the potential to be somewhat different. If you get into an accident where you are facing charges, saying “I always do it this way, Your Honor”, is not likely to be a very effective defense.

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Many drivers don’t look very far ahead. Many drivers are clueless to the situation. Many drivers think the people in the thru lane must give them the right of way.

Some drivers are one of these so they make a frantic late merge.
Some are two of these so they STOP in the lane because they just can’t merge.
SOME people are all three of these…bent metal is often the result.


the merging driver is accelerating. if the mergee slows to let him in, no issue.
if the mergee accelerates also, then there is a problem.
mergee slows, car behind him slows, problem? maybe
but if there is a jam behind him, where is the merger going to go then?

That seems to be what I notice most. Sometimes they get their bubbles burst by a semi that can’t get over because there’s a car in the passing lane opposite side of the semi.


Traffic engineers say that merging at the end is best. I’ve occasionally seen signs saying something like “merge at merge point”, but they really need to put those up every time.


I try to merge as late as possible, and pay attention to the traffic in the left lane to inform my merge left decision.

We have one of these near my house. There is a two lane left turn at the end on a major US highway. A couple hundred feet after the turn, the lanes merge. That’s too easy though. There is a left turn just before the merge. I usually use the right lane and merge left since there is often a long line in the left turn lane. I try to go to the end an pass anyone making that left turn before merging.

Yes, there are idiots in the left lane that try to cut you off before you can merge left. I make sure how traffic is moving in the left and pull over early if I think someone is playing the cutoff game. It gives me great pleasure when the aggressive creep honks at me. Love it!

It should not take more than 3 or 4 times for a person to decide what method of merging works best for them .

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Agree with @VOLVO-V70 but some people drive like it is the first time they’ve ever encountered it EVERY time they do…

Even though it is rare, I think we have likely all encountered a person who comes to a dead stop in a merging lane, thereby endangering everyone else on the expressway, and in the merging lane.

And, merging lanes are not the only places where people exhibit dangerous–and illogical–driving behaviors. Last week, I had the misfortune to be driving behind someone who was piloting his/her (I couldn’t see who was driving) car at 30-35 mph on a rural road with a 45 mph speed limit, and on which most people drive at ~50 mph. Then, to add insult to injury, that dangerous driver proceeded to brake on every upgrade.

Perhaps this was a new driver, but if someone doesn’t realize that his/her car slows down drastically on a upgrade by simply lifting one’s foot from the gas, then I submit that the driver was totally clueless.


If a person is using what may be concidered the correct way to merge but the 10 or more people around you are not then it is time to use an alternate plan.


… and it’s not just when they are driving. A few months ago, I was waiting my turn at the supermarket’s self checkout. A guy whom I observed would take each and every item out of his shopping cart, and peer intently at it before he scanned it, as if he had never seen it before. He bought something like a dozen cups of yogurt, and he felt the need to closely examine each one before he slooooowly scanned it.

Just imagine what it would be like driving behind him when he has to decide where to turn.

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As if! Like the people that drive ten MPH below the speed limit in the left lane.

You get NY drivers in your area also?

In addition to that galling behavior, it seems that all-too-many NY drivers can’t comprehend the signs on divided highways stating “no left turn”. It is amazing how often I see cars on very busy US Route 1 stopped in the left lane–next to a sign stating “no left turn”. And, 98% of the time, they have NY plates.