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  • Is there any rule when 3 lanes merge into 2, usually from a set of traffic lights?

    Hi, I hope i can word these questions correctly and you get what I’m meaning.

    Where i live there are a few roads that are 2 lanes but as you get to the lights they go into 3 lanes, then as you leave the lights it carries on being 3 lanes but then merges back to 2 lanes, on some the far left lane may have arrows pointing to join the middle lane and on others the far right lane has arrows pointing to join the middle lane as they merge.

    Is there a common rule for how everyone merges in this scenario, I am a pretty new driver and if its busy, have found it a bit daunting working out if there should be like a zip system or does it just work on a basic of whoever gets away first, then you just keep checking your mirror for when it looks like it will be your natural turn?

    I've never really had a bit issue as such when doing it and I’m probably over thinking it, it’s only that i feel a little overwhelmed each time, worried i may run out of time /
    space to fit in.

    If the merging is being done on the right is this a bit easier than the left as its the faster overtaking lane anyway, is it a little trickier if it’s the left or is the principle just the same regardless?


  • #2

    The RAC covers it in this article but I do not necessarily agree with all their conclusions. The Highway Code rule 134 covers it and if in an accident, one party will no doubt refer to it to show a defence.
    The aim of zip merging is to maintain traffic flow and generally works quite well. You will always get the drivers who are ignorant and aim to bully their way through.
    I do not agree with the scenario on the motorway where a lane is closed and drivers wait until the last minute to move into an open lane. While there may well be an 'empty' lane so allowing following cars to continue, this causes a tailback at a single point. I think it is better to merge into an open lane early so you don't get the stop-start at the actual lane closure. Unfortunately impatient drivers use the empty lane to race to the front then force their way in. The knock-on effect is to cause traffic to stop which carries on back up the open lane and slows traffic even more so exacerbating the problem.

    Ultimately, the driver who is changing lanes has to be careful so if you use the righthand lane, go across the lights then the arrows show you must merge back to the left, is really just the same as an overtaking manoeuvre. It is therefore for you to ensure it is safe to do so. But, if we all zip merge considerately then there should not be a problem.


    • #3
      I assume from your silence that you are not going to bother responding?