What Is The Correct Way To Enter A Freeway On-Ramp In Washington State?

Have you ever been driving on the freeway and come up to an on-ramp only to find that there's a line of cars trying to merge? Do you know what to do?

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Who's Got The Right-Of-Way When Merging In Washington State?

In Washington State, there's actually a law that dictates who has the right of way in this situation. So buckle up and get ready for a wild ride as we explore the battle of the on-ramps!

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Thanks to our friends at the California Highway Patrol, they've made a handy worksheet that breaks down how to merge onto the freeway.

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If you have ever been on the Lewis Street on-ramp in Pasco and you are one of those people that merge like a turtle need, pay close attention below:

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So how does merging work?

Here are a few examples:

The RED car is entering a freeway from a side street. If you are driving that RED car, you have the following responsibilities;

1. Use the long onramp and acceleration lane to ACCELERATE to freeway speeds. If you try to enter the freeway at much slower speeds, you will do nothing but cause a problem.
2. USE your left turn signal. Remember, a signal doesn't automatically give you the right to change lanes. You have to do so safely. DO NOT cut across all lanes to the left lane.
3. You do NOT have the right of way. Plan accordingly and begin making your plan as you start onto the ramp, not when you reach the end.
4. If you still run out of space and haven't merged, pull over to the shoulder and wait for traffic to clear, then speed up on the shoulder and merge. DO NOT try to force your way on the freeway. (if you follow #3 and plan ahead, this won't happen)

The GREEN car is already on the freeway, driving in the #2 lane. If you are driving the GREEN car, you have the following responsibilities;

1. MAINTAIN your speed so the red car can plan for you.
2. You may change lanes to the #1 lane if safe to avoid the situation or you may slow down to allow the red car to merge in front of you.

If you are in the #1 lane, DO NOT change lanes into the #2 while vehicles are merging. Wait until they have merged, then you may change lanes for a future exit.

So there you have it:

The next time you're caught in a merge situation on I-5 or I-82, take a deep breath and remember these simple rules.

By following them, you can help keep traffic flowing smoothly and avoid being that person who causes everyone else to brake suddenly.

You can read more details on how to properly merge into traffic and refreshers in Washington State here.

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