Think you know all the road rules for merging?

Josh Dutton
News Reporter

Merging can be a difficult driving concept to understand – even for the most seasoned driver.

Doing it incorrectly can not only slow down the flow of traffic but it can also lead to serious accidents. 

According to Insurance Australia Group, 54 per cent of Australian drivers say they have problems merging, with 83 per cent claiming to have experienced other drivers merging poorly.

A car merges onto Sydney's Western Distributor at Pyrmont. Source: Google Maps (file pic)

How to merge

There are two types of merging on Australian roads.

The first type is merging on a road where the driver needs to cross a dotted line such as when entering a freeway.

The driver needs to indicate before the lanes combine then give way to any traffic in the other lane. It’s important to check blindspots and mirrors too.

The other factor which needs to be considered here is speed. If you’re merging onto a 100km/h motorway from a road where the speed limit was 60km/h you will need to increase your speed to match traffic.

In this instance, car A has to giveway to car B as it merges. Source: Queensland Government

How to zip or zipper merge

Zip merging is a bit more complex.

A zip or zipper merge is when two lanes of traffic combine into one and there’s no dashed line.

However, unlike other forms of merging a driver should give way to the car in front of it regardless of whether they’re on the left or right.

The car merging still needs to indicate though.

Here's an example of zip or zipper merging. In this instance, car B has to giveway to car A as car A is in front of it. Source: Queensland Government

Zipper merging is commonly misunderstood by drivers in Australia.

A Reddit thread showed how Aussie drivers sometimes struggle to understand it.

“As a younger driver I used to get pissed at 'sneaks' who try to cut in at the front,” one user wrote.

“Nowadays... while I still think that most people who do this do so for the wrong reasons, they're actually doing the correct thing by merging right at the front of traffic lanes.”

How much can I get fined for merging incorrectly?

Fines for incorrectly merging vary depending on state.

In NSW if you fail to merge properly, you can be fined $344 and slapped with three demerit points.

In Tasmania, it’s a cheaper fine than in NSW with a $168 penalty but also attracts three demerit points.

Failing to give way when merging in Western Australia leads to two demerit points and a $100 fine. Failing to give way when changing lanes is a $100 fine and three demerit points.

A study found many Australians find merging difficult. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

Queensland drivers can be hit with a $400 fine and three demerit points.

It’s a $247 fine for Victorians but doesn’t come with demerit points.

South Australia has by far the heaviest fine for the offence though at $409 and three demerit points.

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