Driver Behaviour - How Do You Merge onto a Congested Freeway/Motorway?

Usually when entering a crawling congested highway onramp, people think they have 2 options:

1) The early merge (they think they're being courteous and polite)
2) The race to the very end, and merge at the last moment (seen as aggressive or impatient behaviour by other road users)

Either of these options would be fine if everyone did the same thing, but from what I've observed usually ~74% choose the early merge and ~24% will cut in at the end. This makes the early mergers pissed off because they've zipper merged onto the highway early and then have to let another car zipper merge in again at the end of onramp, possibly now sitting behind a car that was originally 10-20 cars behind them in the queue. Not only does this cause frustration between drivers, but it also disrupts the flow of traffic, effectively making the left lane a double merge at every highway onramp. Highways are designed to have fewer entry points than exit points, to keep traffic moving, but due to driver behaviour these entry points are clogging the flow of traffic more than they should.

Some of you will wonder how the missing 2% merge…..that's option 3

3) Don't pass any vehicles already on the highway once the broken white lines start. Maintain the same speed as the car to your right (car in left lane on highway), and then zipper merge onto the highway at the end of the merging lane. (This option really pisses off the drivers that want to race to the end of the merge and cut in at the last minute, as they tailgate you, trying to force you ahead)

How do you usually drive when entering a congested highway?

Poll Options expired

  • 17
    1) I don't want to push in, so I'll merge early
  • 38
    2) Merge lane is there to be used, I'm driving past slow cars on the highway and merging at the end
  • 6
    3) I'm not going to undertake anyone on the highway, I'll drive slow and zipper merge at the end


  • +1 vote

    In my opinion, option 3 is the best option as it forces everyone to merge onto the the highway with a 1:1 ratio, which improves the flow of both the onramp and highway. Depending on the length of the merge lane and driver behaviour, a combination of option 1 & 2 could have a ratio of 2:1 to 4:1 (merging:highway left lane) at the end of the merge - terrible for traffic flow.

    I've tried it many times, and even though you might get some pissed off drivers staring at you in your rear vision mirror, the traffic generally flows better overall for everyone.

    If the law was changed so that you weren't allowed to pass anyone already on the highway when merging, the traffic might flow a lot better, and less road infrastructure upgrades will be required to tide us over until autonomous cars are common place. When computers start controlling car movements instead of humans, road capacity's will increase greatly.

  • +4 votes

    Depends on if the arsehole next to you will let you in instead of being 1mm from the car in front.

  • +5 votes

    All of your poll options are useless and against the spirit of how merging works.

    The merger is responsible for matching the speed of the traffic they wish to merge with and indicating their intentions.

    The flowing traffic is responsible for courteously creating gaps to allow traffic to merge.

    It takes both parties for this to work.

    It's such a simple concept that is made complex because of uneducated muppet drivers.


      Yep. The zipper!

      I would have picked option 3, but it's not really applicable. I wont "drive slow" to the end. I'm going to (try) to match speeds with the traffic on the highway and zipper in whenever/wherever I can.

      Disruption to traffic on the highway is kept minimal, and flow on the ramp is kept maximal.

  • +4 votes

    Indicator on, ensure you have a safe gap and merge.

    Stop over thinking it.

    • +4 votes

      Trouble is, too many idiots think their indicator means that they don't need to perform the middle step.

  • +1 vote

    Don’t early merge, especially if there are lots of cars coming up the on ramp. Just makes a long queue potentially back up out to the next intersection.

    Don’t move all the way to the end, that’s being an expletive.

    Find the happy medium. Move somewhere close to the end, merge into a natural gap.

    Merging like a zipper only works if there is a constant volume of traffic from both lanes and you go one for one. If there’s less vehicles in one of the lanes, the zipper doesn’t work and you should just find a suitable natural gap.

  • +2 votes

    4) you read the freeway road conditions and other vehicles in front of you on the on-ramp too. Time your speed and where you’ll likely to merge “naturally”. Indicate and (friendly) hand gestures, when you are attempting the merge/lane change.


      What are friendly hand gestures when attempting to merge? I understand post-merge gestures but not pre/mid-merge, unless you’re in a vintage car without indicators or something then I’d get it.

      • +2 votes

        What are friendly hand gestures when attempting to merge?

        Anything that doesn't involve the middle finger being raised?


      (friendly) hand gestures,

      All too often I think ‘stop waving and drive the damn car’ when they wind the window down, put their arm out to wave.

  • +10 votes

    All wrong. The best way to enter a freeway that is going 100kmph is to approach at roughly 80kmph after taking the whole on ramp to get to that speed.

    If there is a gap in traffic that you could slide in to, perfect. Avoid going there.

    Get near the end of the merging lane and come side to side with another car that has room both in front and behind them.
    Indicate (if you're feeling naughty) and force that car to decide between slowing down and holding up traffic, speeding, or causing a car accident.

    Now that you're on the freeway doing 80kmph, it's time to get across to the right lane as soon as possible. Chuck your indicator on and make your way across as soon as possible.
    Sit there doing juuuuust under 100 as it's the speed limit, which doesn't mean you HAVE to drive that fast.

    If we all drove like this, there would be no congestion in Australia.


      I can see you’ve spent some driving the Melbourne ring road area.

      • +1 vote

        I wish, it's just every freeway now unfortunately.


      Thanks this is exactly what I do. I also like to eat a salad and call my significant other to tell them about my day at the same time, no fancy hands free phone for me.


      I think 80k/h might be a bit fast
      The best ones I have seen are the people who have stopped and are waiting for a gap

  • +1 vote

    Just chill, no need to be pissed at anyone. The traffic is obviously jammed, so even if someone moves 3 car in front, it makes no difference.

    And the fact someone overtakes you should not incite any emotional response anyways…it's not a race.


    4) drive on break down lane until u get fined or smash into a broken down truck in a ball of flames…


    5) Ride a motorcycle, find any gap through traffic and filter past the congestion.


    The solution to this issue is to stop our freeways getting congested in the first place:

    1. Drive at freeway speeds. If you are under the freeway speed, you should be fined for doing so. 80kmh on a 100kmh road is just dangerous.

    2. Don't hit you brakes to change lanes. Find a slot and drive into it. It's stupid to be in the fast lane, then slow down to 80kmh to go into the next lane.

    3. Don't slow down for corners. The corners on freeways are long and sweeping, they are more than capable, and you car is more than capable of cornering at the speed limit, and not be dangerous.

    4. Let people in when they merge. Don't drive into the merging lane as people are merging from an onramp. That is just stupid.

    5. Don't slow down to gawk at accidents on the other side of the freeway.

    6. Merge onto the freeway at freeway speeds, you've got a ramp, you've got an accelerator, use them.

    7. Use your indicator before you change lanes.

    8. Don't force your way into a lane by turning into a space that doesn't exist. That's dangerous.

    9. Don't hog the right lane. If someone is coming up behind you that is faster than you, move over to the left.

    10. Don't use your phone while driving on the motorway. Don't wear headphones while driving.

    11. Service your car. Don't be the (profanity) whose piece of crap breaks down on the Westgate bridge every other day.

    If we had better driver education, our traffic wouldn't be half as bad. I use the freeways everyday, and cover a decent distance. I've seen it all. One thing I know is that I'd never ride a motorbike on public roads. Seen way too many dead guys on the road from trucks merging into them.


      Not much of this will wash on a driving audience who are fundamentally broken, worthless and unfixable and largely deserve the 1,500 deaths a year.

      The end.

  • +2 votes

    You forgot the other subclass of drivers:
    4) coast along at 50km/hr so you miss all safe gaps and then end up screwed at the end of the merge lane unable to get in

    You'd think it would be bloody obvious for people to accelerate to match the highway speed while coming down the on ramp but so many people have issues understanding the concept…


    The Zipper merge topic is on the rise at ozbargain lately..




    The more people wait until the very last second to merge, the more congestion happens in the lane as more and more people merge into it and make everyone else slow down as they did not match the speed and slide into it seamlessly as they really should.