What Is the Difference Between the Added Lane Sign and the Merge Sign?

The Difference Between the Added Lane Sign and the Merge Sign

Both signs warn of a point where another road comes together with the mainstream of traffic but there is one important difference.

The Added Lane sign means that a new lane is added to the main roadway for traffic entering from the side road. Entering traffic does not need to merge at this point. Drivers can continue driving in the new lane.

The Merge sign means that lanes from the two separate roadways will come together and become one single traffic lane. Drivers entering from the side road must be prepared to merge with traffic on the main highway.

Drivers on the main highway should be cautious of this incoming traffic and allow traffic to merge smoothly.

The Added Lane Sign

Added Lane Sign, W4-3

The sign is usually placed on the side of the highway near a point where the new road comes together with the main highway and where it is visible from both roadways. You may also see signs on the side of each of the two roadways.

If a highway on-ramp becomes a new lane, entering traffic should continue in this new lane and not merge. Traffic on the main highway will not expect merging traffic at this point.

The opposite is also true. Drivers on the main highway should avoid moving into the new lane; because entering traffic will not expect vehicles to move into their travel path.

The Lane Ends Sign

Lane Ends Signs - W4-2, W9-1, W9-2

The new lane can be temporary and end at a later point where merging is safer or necessary for other reasons (often the case when there is a new on-ramp ahead).

Such a point will be marked with the Lane Ends sign. The sign will show that there are fewer lanes with a symbol or a worded message (see above).

This sign tells you that traffic is required to merge. Drivers should adjust their speed and position accordingly and allow for smooth merging.




The Merge Sign

Merge Sign, W4-1

This Merge sign is used in advance of a point where traffic coming from the right must merge into the existing right-hand traffic lane.

It is mainly a warning to drivers on the major that merging traffic can be expected and often there is only one sign, visible from both roadways.

A Merge sign can also be installed on the side of the entering roadway to warn drivers on the entering roadway that they must merge ahead.

When entering the main highway, you must use the merging or acceleration lane to speed up to the flow of traffic without exceeding the speed limit. With a speed that is the same as highway traffic, you can merge smoothly into the travel lane when the way is clear.

Even if you have trouble finding a gap that is big enough, don’t drive to the end of the acceleration lane and stop – if you can avoid it!

Remember, you must always yield to traffic on the main highway, so don’t try to squeeze into a gap that is too small. Good judgment and good timing are necessary to merge smoothly with fast-moving traffic.

Be sure use a proper turn signal to indicate your intention to enter the traffic lane and always check your blind spot before you change lanes.

If you are on the main highway, always adjust your speed or move over when vehicles attempt to enter in front of you.

What Does No Merging Area Mean?

No merging area - supplemental plaque

If there is a merge sign with ‘No Merge Area” plaque mounted below they sign, you should expect an abrupt merging situation. The entering roadway doesn’t have an acceleration lane at the end of the ramp.

Drivers entering the main highway must be alert and look for gaps in traffic before entering. Drivers on the main highway should move over to left to allow merging whenever possible.

Question 1: When entering an interstate highway, you should:

  •   A. Drive slowly, look for a gap in traffic, and enter when safe
  •   B. Look for a gap in traffic, speed up, and enter when safe
  •   C. Drive to the end of the on-ramp and stop before entering

CORRECT ANSWER: B.
Remember to watch the highway traffic and identify gaps. Use to on-ramp to speed up to the traffic flow and enter smoothly. You may cause an accident if you enter at a speed that is much lower than the fast-moving highway traffic. You will also have trouble entering smoothly if you drive to the far end of the acceleration lane and stop.

Added Lane and Merge Sign

Question 2: Which sign means you must be prepared for merging traffic?

  •   A. I only
  •   B. II only
  •   C. Both I and II
  •   D. Neither I nor II

CORRECT ANSWER: A.
The Merge sign (I) means two roadways come together and traffic must merge. The Added Lane sign (II) means that traffic isn’t required to merge.


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