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Go! It’s an Acceleration Lane…

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

I saw it again the other day, a driver who was stopped at the beginning of an acceleration lane patiently signalling and looking for a large gap to join in with the passing traffic. Before you make a comment about gray hair, this could just as easily have been a new driver. I couldn’t tell as I drove past at 90 km/h.

Acceleration Lane

Acceleration lanes are designed to give drivers the time and space to merge smoothly with traffic on the highway without causing other drivers to alter position or speed.

Generally, you may anticipate an acceleration lane when the right turn bay is not marked with a yield sign.

The Learn to Drive Smart guide tells us that we should scan traffic to our left as we use the entrance ramp. Match the speed of traffic on the highway as you use the portion of the acceleration lane marked with a single solid white line on the left. Once you reach the area marked with a single broken white line on the left, merge into the space that you have selected.

Be wary of cyclists! This can be a time when you have many tasks to process at once and a bicycle may be more difficult to see in the stream of vehicular traffic.

Of course, if your vehicle is equipped with signal lights, this is a good time to use them. While it may seem obvious, you will be changing lanes so it is mandatory to signal even if there is no other traffic present.

Due to the higher speeds usually involved here, using your observation skills is key. Look as far forward and back as you are able to in order to gauge the traffic you will have to merge into.

Scan to the rear and sides frequently and carefully, being especially aware of your own and other driver’s blind spots.

Finally, check your speed as it can be easy to accelerate too much without realising.

The aim in the successful use of acceleration lanes is to give yourself the longest possible time to react if things do not go as planned. Scanning increases your awareness and that serves to increase your safety.

Let’s go back to me driving past before we finish here. The driver I observed stopped in the acceleration lane was a strong indication that they might be confused. Moving into the left lane if possible would be the smart thing to do. Maintaining your space cushion will protect you from that driver if they make another mistake and pull into the lane in front of you.