It’s a common misconception that merging drivers automatically have the right-of-way on the highway. All drivers in Louisiana can benefit from understanding the rules of merging on the road to ensure safe and smooth traffic flow.
Many drivers assume merging requires oncoming drivers to yield and make room, allowing them to enter; however, Louisiana law grants right-of-way to cars already on the highway. If you are injured in a merging accident, the Lafayette auto wreck lawyers at Dudley DeBosier can help you understand your rights and file a car accident claim.
Right-of-Way Laws in Louisiana
Louisiana statutes outline the right-of-way rules for drivers on highways and other roadways. According to RS 32:124, all cars entering the highway must yield to other vehicles on the highway if they are entering from a smaller road or a parking lot.
Merging drivers must also signal their intention to merge before doing so. This means that drivers merging onto the highway from an entrance ramp do not have the right-of-way and must wait for there to be a safe gap between vehicles before merging into existing traffic.
RS 32:71 does require highway drivers to move to the right to allow cars traveling faster to pass in the left-hand lane. However, it does not state they must yield to vehicles merging from highway onramps. While drivers on the highway can choose to allow merging drivers to enter traffic by changing lanes and creating space for them, they are not required to do so.
When turning left at an intersection, the right-of-way law is similar. If you are turning left and another vehicle is already in the intersection, you must wait for them to pass before completing your turn. This is because the car in the intersection has the right-of-way, and you must yield to them.
Failure to do so can result in a collision and put you and other road users in danger. Always look both ways to ensure a safe turn at an intersection, signal your intent to turn, and wait for any other vehicles traveling straight to pass before turning.
Merging onto a highway can be daunting, especially for inexperienced drivers or those unfamiliar with the road. However, following some simple tips can ensure a safe and successful merge.
- Use your turn signals: Before merging, look for an opening in traffic, and make sure you use your turn signals to indicate your intent to other drivers so they can adjust their speed. Switch on your signals approximately 100 to 300 feet before merging.
- Match the traffic flow: Before merging, slow down or accelerate as necessary to adjust your speed to match the traffic flow. This will make your merge smoother and less dangerous.
- Look ahead: Check the road ahead for potential hazards, such as semi-trailers with large blind spots, and adjust your merging position accordingly. Make sure you have a three to four-second gap between cars to ensure you have enough time and space to merge.
- Yield to oncoming traffic: In Louisiana, vehicles traveling on the highway have the right-of-way, so you need to yield to drivers already in the right-hand lane.
- Avoid last-minute lane changes: Sudden lane changes can cause confusion and increase the risk of an accident. Plan your merge well in advance.
- Don’t cut in front of other drivers: Cutting in front of other drivers can be dangerous and is generally considered poor etiquette.
- Stay alert: Pay attention to the road, other drivers, and any traffic signs or signals that may indicate merging lanes. Turn down the radio, and pause conversations while merging. This can help you react quickly and avoid accidents.
At Dudley DeBosier, we understand the complexities of merging accidents and the physical, emotional, and financial toll they can take on victims and their families, especially when these crashes result in injuries.
Our team of experienced auto accident lawyers can help you understand your rights after a collision and take the next legal step in your case. Our attorneys care about our clients and will fight for your rights.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation to learn how our auto accident lawyers can help you with your case. We will handle the legal aspects so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.
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