Who Has To Give Way When Changing or Merging Lanes?

We’ve all been in a situation on the road when we’re in a lane that’s about to end and we need to merge into the next lane. Although the rules around merging on Australian roads are fairly simple, it’s not uncommon for drivers to experience a lapse in judgement or become impatient – often resulting in a car accident. So, who has right of way when changing or merging lanes?

Changing Lanes

If you want to change lanes, and this includes when you’re merging, it’s important that you use your indicator ahead of time to warn other drivers of your intentions. When you’re changing from one lane with marked lines to another, you need to give way to all vehicles in the lane you’re moving into. Always check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes, and only change lanes when it is safe to do so.

Merging Lane Rules

When you’re travelling in a lane with marked lines that’s going to end, you’ll need to merge into the next lane. The same rules apply in this situation as when you change lanes from a lane with marked lines: you need to give way to the vehicles in the lane you’re entering – even if you’re slightly ahead of them. If you’re merging, wait for a safe gap and ensure you’re matching the legal speed of the road you’re entering. For example, trying to merge onto a freeway at 50km/h is more likely to cause an accident than if you drive at the correct speed for that road.

Always wait for a safe gap when you're merging lanes and make sure that you're matching the legal speed on the road you're entering.

Zipper Merge

A zipper merge refers to a road where 2 lanes merge into one but there are no lane markings present. It can also refer to a road where the lane markings end before the 2 lanes of traffic merge. In the case of a zipper merge, all drivers need to give way to the vehicle ahead of them.

With any type of lane change or merging, you need to maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you. If you’re already in the lane that other drivers are trying to merge into, you should allow other cars to merge rather trying to close the gap in front of you or cut other drivers off.

My Car Got Sideswiped Or Rear-Ended

Despite following all the correct rules, you may still be involved in an accident if another driver on the road doesn’t take reasonable care when changing lanes or merging. Sideswipe accidents are common when a driver leaves their lane of travel and collides with the side of another car travelling in the next lane. The driver changing lanes has the responsibility to make sure there is enough space to enter the other lane safely and give way to the traffic in the lane they are entering.

Another common type of accident is when someone hits your car from the back. This is often the result of misjudging the gap and merging without a safe gap to do so. In the case of a rear-ender between 2 vehicles, the tailing driver is usually considered to be at fault.

It's important to take reasonable care when changing or merging lanes and make sure that you use your indicator to show other drivers your intention.

I Have No Car Insurance And Someone Hit Me

If you’re the not at fault driver in a car accident, you may be eligible for our services even if you don’t have an insurance policy of your own. You’re legally entitled to be placed back into the position you were in before your accident. This means you may be able to receive a like-for-like accident replacement vehicle for the entire duration of your repairs – at no cost to you.

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Not At Fault after An Accident?

Right2Drive offers expert fault assessment & like-for-like accident replacement cars.

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