Police: Accelerate to highway speeds when merging

Merging onto Florida highways can be stressful, but as long as drivers follow the rules of the road, it would help ease the anxiety.

By state law, a merging motorist must yield the right of way to the existing traffic on a highway - and adjust their speed accordingly, Officer Roy Paz with the Tampa Police Department explained on Good Day Tampa Bay. This means the traffic on the interstate has the right of way.

"The responsibility does not belong to the folks on the interstate," Officer Paz explained. "It belongs to the person actually merging. However, it doesn't relieve the person of being courteous and moving over to the next lane or letting that person actually merge in."

The first tip he offered when merging from the on-ramp is simple: Use your turn signal.

"That thing let's people know what your intentions are," Paz said. "Although it's obvious you're trying to get over, that turn signal is blinking every time saying, 'Let me over. Let me over. Let me over.'"

Florida law states that drivers who attempt to merge onto the highway must also adjust their speed accordingly.

"You got to get up to speed," Officer Paz said. "Don't think of the on-ramp as an on-ramp; you've got to think of it as an acceleration lane. You've got to put on the gas, you got to get up to speed because, remember, you're merging over onto traffic that's going a minimum of 50 to 55 miles an hour."

Another important tidbit is to merge at the end of the lane rather than trying to merge onto the highway right away, he said. It would allow traffic to give you time to merge over, or use the "zipper technique," as Officer Paz called it.

"So, you're coming up on the on-ramp -- there's that lane -- try to go all the way to the end or close to the end of the lane, and then merge over," Paz described. "What you're doing when you do that is you're allowing traffic to give you time to merge over."

The same technique can be done when there's stop-and-go traffic.

"One car goes, and the other car goes also," he added.

He said when drivers attempt to move over right away, it can cause a chain reaction for congestion. Also, don't slam on the brakes as you merge. It can also cause drivers behind you to slow their pace.

"These are things you don't want to do when merging," Paz reiterated. "Don't assume someone is going to let you in. Remember, they got the right of way. A lot of them don't let you in. So, you've got to adjust your speed. You got to adjust yourself."

When you're exiting the interstate, the rules are the opposite of when you are entering the highway.

"When you're exiting the interstate, you want to do the exact opposite," Paz said. "You want to get over into that exit lane as quickly as possible versus as late as possible. Also, you want to start decelerating your speed because now you're exiting, so you'd want to slow down."