P-plater's common merge mistake causes crash – but who's at fault?

Brianne Tolj
·2-min read

Dashcam footage of a P-plate driver unsuccessfully merging into a lane on a highway has caused debate online over who was in the wrong.

The video, posted by Dash Cam Owners Australia’s Facebook page on Tuesday, shows the driver of a Toyota Camry in the left lane slow down and indicate before trying to merge into the middle lane.

The Toyota Camry is seen trying to merge from the left.
Dashcam footage of a P-plate driver unsuccessfully merging into a lane on a highway has caused a debate online over who was in the wrong. Source: Dash Cam Owners Australia

The car behind the Camry does not appear to slow down and promptly runs into the sedan’s rear bumper and side after the driver sounded the horn.

The video, which has garnered almost 2000 comments, triggered intense debate among viewers.

Numerous people blamed the P-plater, saying they didn’t have enough space to merge safely while others said there was more than enough room for the other driver to slow down and let the car in.

“To be fair, I’m getting pretty tired of people who think the indicator means they have the right of way,” one man said.

“Right or wrong, you had ample opportunity to avoid an accident and chose not to. Dashcam driver = total spud,” a woman wrote.

“So the horn works but the brakes don’t. NO the P-plater did not attempt a merge with a safe gap to do so however the cam driver also didn’t take reasonable action to avoid contact,” another woman said.

NRMA warns of ambiguity in merging road rules

Peter Khoury, media manager for NRMA, says the law states that a merging driver should only change lanes when it is safe to do so, must signal in plenty of time and check for other vehicles by looking in the mirrors.

Cars must also give way to vehicles moving into their lane.

Mr Khoury told Yahoo News Australia that an argument could be made for both drivers.

“Like lots of things, there’s a bit of ambiguity in the law,” he said.

“There’s an argument that the car in the middle lane had plenty of opportunity to let them merge and also there’s an argument that the car that is merging may not have merged properly.”

While the dashcam driver had enough time to hit the horn, indicating he saw the car, it is unknown how fast they were going and if there was a car behind preventing them from slowing down.

“Regardless of the law, had both drivers shown a bit of courtesy this wouldn’t have happened,” Mr Khoury said.

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