Driving tests

How should you signal when you merge?

When one or more lanes end or where two lanes join into one or where a feeder lane (e.g. an on-ramp or slip road) joins another road, vehicles need to merge. The rule for merging where a lane ends is that you must signal your intention for at least three seconds before performing the manoeuvre. This is covered in clause 3.10(3) and 3.10(4) of the Land Tranport (Road User) Rule 2004.

An on-ramp is designed to allow vehicles to speed up to the same speed as traffic on the motorway or highway. Use the whole distance of the on-ramp and remember to check over your shoulder before you merge. The on-ramp ends therefore you must indicate right and match your speed to the traffic approaching from your right.
A feeder lane enables a vehicle to cross a lane of traffic then pick up some speed to join the main flow of traffic. These are often used when exiting a minor road onto a major road. Indicate left.

In some situations, two lanes merge but neither lane actually ends. It’s not legally required for you to indicate, but it is best practice because other drivers might not have noticed that the lane is merging (i.e. the road is narrowing) and therefore may not be expecting you to move left or right.

In an urban area, it’s common for two lanes to merge into one. Neither lane officially ends, but it’s best practice to indicate.
When a passing lane ends, it’s best practice to signal. This is especially important for large vehicles travelling in the left lane as they may be obscuring lane-end signs for motorists overtaking.

Merge ‘like a zip’, i.e. vehicles merging should slot alternately between vehicles already in the target lane (assuming traffic is heavy enough to warrant it. You should be using the feeder lane to get up to the same speed as traffic in your target lane. Once you have merged, adjust your speed and following distance.

Signs that indicate a lane is ending or joining another and that you will need to merge are:

Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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