Merge In Turn

This seems to be some sort of mysterious rule that only some people know about, and those that do not (or do not understand it) continue on with their driving oblivious to the annoyance they cause to other road users.

The Highway Code has a few things to say about Merge In Turn.

Lane discipline: 134
You should follow the signs and road markings and get into the lane as directed. In congested road conditions do not change lanes unnecessarily. Merging in turn is recommended but only if safe and appropriate when vehicles are travelling at a very low speed, e.g. when approaching road works or a road traffic incident. It is not recommended at high speed.

In other words, when directed to do so, traffic should merge into the appropriate lane(s), in turn. Generally, one after the other. Like taking turns in a game. The same also applies in unusual situations such as in the approach to road works or accidents, which are generally signed to indicate as such.

Road Works: 288
Where lanes are restricted due to road works, merge in turn (see Rule 134)

Why Merge In Turn? Well, it smooths the flow of traffic at congestion points (arguably, the congestion points should be widened to eliminate them but that is a different matter). Traffic flowing in two (or more) lanes and merging when necessary will move more quickly, more safely and cause less of a tail back than traffic sitting queuing in one lane.

The signage may involve traditional road markings such as curved arrows as the lanes begin to narrow and merge into one from two (circled in red below):

In the case of roadworks or a blocked lane, the signs may be akin to the following:

Placed at various intervals on the approach to the closure, annotated with corresponding distances.

These may sometimes be preceded further up the road by signs indicating that the lanes merge or to Merge In Turn. They usually say something like “Lanes Merging” or “Merge In Turn” and if you are really lucky, they have a pretty little picture of some lanes joining together. So given the complicated nature of these signs, I can understand how they could be misunderstood.

Oh, wait. No. I can’t. It really is that simple. MERGE. IN. TURN.

Here is a list of ways describing how NOT to Merge In Turn:

  • Move over to the open lane or sit in the left hand lane as soon as possible MILES before they merge. Then spend the next few hours you are queuing glaring at those who understand how to perform a Merge In Turn manoeuvre who will obviously overtake and merge in you while you queue unnecessarily.
  • As above but get annoyed by all the people who understand how to Merge In Turn overtaking you so pull out and actually STRADDLE the two lanes blocking any traffic in either lane from progressing and merging correctly.
  • As point one but obstruct the flow of traffic by refusing to let those who overtook you merge in front of you even though they have followed the Highway Code and performed the manoeuvre correctly.

I’m sure there people have had similar experiences with the incompetence of other road users when it comes to Merge In Turn and the ones I listed above are just a few I have had the misfortune of experiencing.

So to those who do not know how to Merge In Turn (and if you disagree with any of what I have said in this post, you don’t know how to Merge In Turn) I urge you: Stop glaring at me, go down to your nearest book shop, buy a copy of the Highway Code and perhaps a dictionary in case any of the words are too complicated for you, and read. Read, learn and understand. When you’ve finished queuing, that is.

  1. I did have a counterpoint to this argument but in a different scenario, but I found I could not explain it accurately, so I bow down.

    • Mel
    • November 20th, 2013 5:23pm

    At last, something on the subject that makes sense! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been glared at/hooted at for so doing, and even once the driver of an articulated lorry pulled out of the inside lane and tried to shove me into the centre barrier!

    This should be more widely understood.

    • Krzysztof
    • April 30th, 2014 6:54pm

    That’s a very good article. Describes correct behavior on the road which unfortunately most of Aberdonian drivers do not understand.

    • Jezza
    • August 14th, 2014 7:16am

    I used to sit in big long queues getting annoyed at other drivers going down the “free” lane, then I thought about it and could see the benifit of merging at the top of the roadworks at the merge points.
    Unfortunately there are still the majority if drivers who don’t understand the merge in turn concept and fall back on the good old British principle of “we must queue”.
    Recently I’ve had a driver waving out of his window at me suggesting I should get in his lane which was about a mile long as I was passing him, he then gave me the bird as I passed him. I stopped and let him catch up and asked him what his problem was and he said I should be in the queue with everyone else. I suggested he read the Highway Code!
    Yesterday I did the same and the cars at the head of the merge would not let me in with one 4×4 revving his engine and nudging forward.
    I’ve decided I’m going to print the high ode page so I can pass it to drivers when they moan!

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