Can merging off of or onto Highway 101 really be that hard? Based on some complaints lately by Road Warrior readers, it can be.

So to help, we went to some experts.

Roileen Miller of Miller Driving School in Cotati offers these tips:


–Traffic on the highway has the right of way.

–“When merging onto the freeway, you want to merge as close to traffic speed as possible.” So if traffic is moving at 65 mph, so should you. If it’s going only 30, so should you.

–Look before you merge. Be sure to glance over your shoulder before merging so that you can see if a car is in your blind spot. “Most drivers don’t turn their head and look,” and that’s what makes merging so dangerous, Miller says.

–If a car is trying to merge onto the highway, ease off the gas to create a spot for the car to enter.

–If a car on the onramp is going slow and you’re on the highway, change lanes if you can or accelerate to get ahead of that car if you can.

–If you’re following a car on the onramp, give yourself lots of room from it in case that driver slows down.

Miller says she teaches her students how to change lanes first so that when they practice merging it’s easy for them.

CHP Sgt. Jeff Abrams says that for the puzzle pieces of merging to fit together, drivers on the highway and those on onramps need to work together. He says it’s crucial for both drivers to be sure they’re following cars at a safe distance so that merges go trouble free.

And from the DMV driver’s handbook are these admonishments:

–Do not stop before merging into freeway traffic unless absolutely necessary.

–Don’t try to squeeze into a gap that’s too small. Leave yourself some room for safety.

–When exiting, signal for about five seconds before reaching the exit.

The Road Warrior adds:

–Be ready to exit when your offramp comes up. I’ve seen too many people cut across multiple lanes of traffic when they seem to suddenly realize their exit is at hand.


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