The number of responses I got from my article about expressway merging is something I never expected. I’m not complaining, but the way I called out those who had no idea about how to do it safely may have been a little too aggressive. I realize that I wrote that piece with an angry mind and heart, and I could’ve simply offered advice rather than use this website’s space for what is basically a rant.
So, this time, I’m making this column with a calm head. And I’m going to discuss something that I think everyone should know how to safely execute: exiting expressways.
Expressway off-ramps sound so simple. It’s either you miss them or you don’t. I had always been under the impression that most people have the common sense to do what’s right when they miss their exit. But some of the videos we post on our Facebook page seem to prove otherwise. Cars come to a halt, drive in reverse, or hastily cross several lanes just to get to their exits while other vehicles are whizzing past them at 60km/h or more.
It’s easy to see what could happen if you do the same. You stop, but the guy behind you doesn’t hit the brakes in time (or loses them). The sights and sounds of crushing metal, screaming passengers, and squirting blood vessels come to life. Afterward, you or your loved ones now find yourselves waiting at the pearly gates.
It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that stopping, reversing or darting across several lanes on an expressway can result in serious injuries and/or death. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and here are a few tips that should help you get to your desired off-ramp every single time.
• Study your route. If you’re unfamiliar with the exit you’ll be taking, it’s best practice to study your route before you drive. Look at key landmarks along your way, and try to count the number of off-ramps leading to the one you’re using. This also applies to experienced drivers and navigators because they’re also human, and they make mistakes.
• Read the road signs. Most expressways in this country have road signs showing the distance to each exit. Once you see the 2km marker, it’s best practice to move to the rightmost lane in preparation for taking the off-ramp.
• Slow down if you need to. If finding your exit still gives you the jitters, slow down to the minimum allowable speed limit and move to the rightmost lane. This will give you more opportunities to read road signs and spot key landmarks before you reach your off-ramp.
However, if you still end up missing your exit, simply keep driving and take the next one. Your trip will be a bit longer and you’re going to spend a little more on fuel and toll fees, but heading to the next off-ramp is the only way to get back on track without jeopardizing the safety of other road users.