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Merging speed onto BC’s highways

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Constable Tim Schewe, retired RCMP officer, answers your driving questions at www.drivesmart.ca

If there is no posted speed limit sign, what is the legal speed for merging onto a freeway?

If you think about it, any driver merging onto a highway in BC is in the same quandary.  That black and white sign you can see on the right side of the ramp only indicates that your vehicle must be capable of at least 60 km/h in order to use the freeway, but the actual posted speed limit is not going to be visible until after you have completed your merge and proceeded (not in every case) two or three hundred metres further down the freeway.

So the default speed limit, per Section 146 (1) is 80 km/h.  So this will be your target speed for successful and legal entry, doing your best not to exceed it of course.  I always recommend that drivers in this situation get their left signal going early rather than late, in order to maximize the message to the traffic on the freeway that you’re arriving and merging.  And it’s worth keeping in mind that the freeway drivers will probably respond to the way a merging vehicle is being driven; if the driver is slow, tentative, using the brakes unnecessarily, then he/she is not likely to have a successful merge (interesting statistic, 90% of merging collisions in North Vancouver are rear-enders on the ramp and don’t involve the vehicles already on the freeway).  But if a driver is brisk and confident in their approach, they are much more likely to be assimilated into the traffic flow; and that ability to merge smoothly is paramount in the mind of the Driver Examiner who is more likely to be paying attention to the traffic situation around you than your speedometer reading.