Merging into traffic, whether onto a highway or a busy street, is a common driving maneuver, but it’s not always straightforward. Merging accidents can happen quickly, often because one or both drivers aren’t sure who has the right of way or how to move over safely.

Knowing how to merge correctly and whether you have the right of way can help avoid accidents. It can also help you understand who’s at fault in a merging collision and whether you’re entitled to compensation.

A skilled Michigan car crash lawyer from Fieger Law can meet with you during a free consultation to review your case. We can explain your rights and help you negotiate a settlement if the other driver is at fault.

Who Has the Right-of-Way When Merging?

Under most state traffic laws, vehicles already on the roadway have the right-of-way. This means drivers entering the highway from an on-ramp must yield to existing traffic. This rule helps maintain a steady traffic flow on highways and freeways designed for higher-speed travel.

When merging from an on-ramp, the entering driver must adjust their speed and position to join through traffic. This can prevent sudden braking or swerving by either the merging or the through driver, which can lead to accidents.

One study found that 88.27% of merging accidents occur next to acceleration lanes, making it vital for all drivers to understand these right-of-way rules to prevent collisions.

If you were involved in a crash due to another driver’s negligence, contact Fieger Law. We work with clients from across the U.S. and can help you hold the party liable for your damages in an auto accident claim.

Is the Non-Merging Vehicle Ever at Fault?

While the merging driver never has the right of way when moving onto the highway, there are situations when a crash might be the other driver’s fault. These can include:

  • Failing to Maintain a Safe Distance: A through driver can be at fault if they follow too closely behind another vehicle, leaving insufficient space to react and stop safely when a car merges onto the freeway.
  • Distracted Driving: If a through driver is engaged in activities like texting, eating, or adjusting the radio and fails to notice a vehicle attempting to merge, they can share responsibility for any resulting collision.
  • Speeding: Driving over the speed limit reduces the through driver’s reaction time, making it harder to safely accommodate merging vehicles and increasing the likelihood of a crash.
  • Aggressive Driving: Actions such as deliberately blocking a merging vehicle or not allowing enough room for a safe merge can lead to a driver being partially at fault.
  • Unsafe Lane Changes: If a through driver changes lanes without proper signaling or checking for merging traffic, they could be liable for a collision with a vehicle entering the freeway. A 2019 study found that unsafe lane changes lead to a 53 increase in traffic crash risk.

If you were injured on the highway due to the actions of another driver, Fieger Law can work to prove that, even though you were merging at the time, the crash wasn’t your fault. We can help you secure the maximum compensation for your situation.

Tips for Safe Merging onto the Highway or Other Roadway

Safely merging onto a highway or other roadways is essential to prevent accidents. Follow these tips for a seamless and safe merging experience:

  • Check Mirrors and Blind Spots: Always check your rearview and side mirrors and glance over your shoulder to check blind spots before merging. This allows you to identify vehicles that might be in your intended path. Drivers who take these precautions are around four times less likely to be involved in a collision.
  • Adjust Speed to Match Traffic: Match the traffic speed on the highway as closely as possible. This makes it easier to find a gap and merge without causing other drivers to brake abruptly.
  • Use Turn Signals: Always signal your intention to merge in advance. This alerts other drivers and can encourage them to make space for you.
  • Plan Ahead: Look for a suitable gap in traffic early. Avoid waiting until the last moment, leading to rushed and dangerous merging.
  • Be Patient: If you don’t see a safe opportunity to merge, wait. It’s better to slow down or stop at the end of the ramp than to merge unsafely.
  • Avoid Distractions: Stay focused on the road and avoid distractions like using a phone. Using your phone while driving is illegal in most states, and you need your full attention to merge safely.

Get a Fair Case Assessment at Fieger Law

At Fieger Law, we have decades of experience representing car accident victims in Michigan and across the U.S. We understand complicated merging situations and can provide legal representation whether you are the merging driver or already on the highway.

We thoroughly investigate your claim to identify the responsible party and aim to reduce any partial liability on your part. Our goal is to secure compensation for you that encompasses all your damages, including medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Contact us today for a free consultation to start your claim.