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Division of Highways Discusses Proper Merging Techniques

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CLARKSBURG -

Merging is one of the first things new drivers are taught when learning to drive.

Millions of drivers merge everyday with no problems, but Greg Phillips, district manager for the West Virginia Division of Highways, said that it also causes lots of accidents.

He said part of the problem is the highway drivers who don't move over for those merging.

"It'll show a big yellow triangle, where the traffic does merge there. The proper thing to do is to move over to the left lane if at all possible," Phillips said.

He said while it's common courtesy for highway drivers to move into the left lane to allow those mergers to enter the highway, it's ultimately up to the merger to enter safely.

Trevor Saas said he's dealt with lots of people who don't know how to properly merge.

"Honestly, they need to get with the speed of traffic. Half the issue is the traffic isn't going that speed, or the length of that merging lane," said Trevor Saas, a driver.

Phillips said drivers should exit the ramp at about 45 mph to safely blend in with traffic.

But Saas said there's not always enough room to reach those speeds.

"When there's two lanes of full traffic and I just have to sit there. That's not fun because now I have to force my car to go much faster than it wants to," Saas said.

Phillips said it's also important for highway drivers to follow the speed limit. Driving too slow sometimes causes mergers to change lanes too quickly, which can lead to an accident. But he also said driving too fast is problematic too, because it reduces reaction times.

"A lot of times people will come off of that ramp, and someone in front of them will be going slow and they'll shoot into the left lane. If someone is going too fast you could get clobbered right there," Phillips said.

Phillips also said drivers should remain in their lanes until it's safe to shift into another one.

According to Phillips, mistakes associated with merging can lead to a wide-range of citations including speeding tickets and failure to maintain control of motor vehicle citations.