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Traffic Talk: Merging traffic into one lane requires some cooperation

Don Gammill: Getting vehicles to merge into one lane safely requires a little cooperation from drivers.
BY DON GAMMILL Published: September 24, 2012

It happens every day, but that still doesn't make it right.

As you're on a four-lane road, you see the signs that say one lane in your direction of travel is closed ahead. The signs are well in advance of the closure, providing all drivers with ample time to merge into a single lane.

But there always are those who wait until the last possible instance before attempting to squeeze or bully their way into the line. Some drivers play nice and let them in, but others make it clear they won't do so.

So who's right?

Courtesy, on the part of the driver on either side, can set the pace. Getting vehicles into one lane safely requires a little cooperation.

One of the most common problem areas is where there is a construction zone. The Oklahoma Statutes — Title 47 (Motor Vehicles), Chapter 11 (Rules of the Road), Section 11-1302 (Maintenance and Construction Zones) — gives specifics to be aware of when you encounter a construction zone, particularly these areas:

“C. Whenever construction, repair and maintenance of any highway is being performed under traffic, the governing body having jurisdiction over the highway shall erect, or cause to be erected, traffic-control devices to warn and guide the public. Each person using the highway shall obey all signs, signals, markings, flagmen or other traffic-control devices which are placed to regulate, control, and guide traffic through the construction or maintenance area.”

Here's where the “merge now” comes into play:

“D. The “Merge Now” traffic-control device that is used to warn and guide the public using the highway to merge, shall be located no greater than one (1) mile nor less than one thousand five hundred (1,500) feet in advance of the highway construction or maintenance area. Whenever any traffic-control device requires traffic to merge due to the closure of a section or lane of highway, the merge shall be completed:

“1. As soon as practicable after passing the traffic-control device; and

“2. Without passing any other traffic proceeding in the same direction. ... ”

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