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Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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April law of the month

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Are drivers on highways required to make room for merging vehicles?

While merging from a ramp onto a multiple-lane highway, it certainly helps when drivers on the main freeway move over a lane so you can get into the flow of traffic more easily. But are drivers on the main freeway required by law to change lanes and provide a clear path for merging vehicles?

“As a matter of courtesy and safety, we encourage drivers on multiple lane highways to change lanes if possible or adjust their speed so that merging vehicles can get into the traffic flow quickly. However, drivers merging from a ramp onto a highway should be aware that vehicles on the main freeway are not legally required to move over for merging vehicles,” says State Patrol Superintendent Stephen Fitzgerald.

The State Patrol also offers the following advice for merging onto highways smoothly:

  • Enter the freeway from the ramp at or near the speed of freeway traffic.
  • Use your turn signals.
  • Do not stop while merging unless absolutely necessary.
  • Don't try to squeeze into a gap in traffic that won't provide room to react.
  • If you have to cross several lanes of traffic, cross them one at a time.

“Merging onto a highway can be stressful when traffic is heavy and moving rapidly,” says Superintendent Fitzgerald. “Drivers trying to merge should pay strict attention to the traffic flow and be prepared to adjust their speed.  But don’t expect that the drivers on the main freeway will necessarily move over for a merging vehicle.”

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Last modified: March 31, 2015

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