ABC Action News is committed to Driving Tampa Bay Forward. We're Taking Action for You to investigate and inform you about the need for safer roads and infrastructure improvements. Driving Tampa Bay Forward is designed to empower you to help bring about change, save lives, time and money. Story idea? Call 866-428-6397 or Email

Merge early or merge late? Settling the debate

When there’s an accident blocking lanes on the interstate, do you merge early or do you merge late?

Some people questioned drivers' choices after a live video showing a back-up on Interstate 4 was posted on our ABC Action Traffic Facebook page. Many of the comments suggested drivers didn’t know how to merge correctly.  

“It really depends on the speed of the vehicles,” said Dr. Pei-Sung Lin, Traffic Operations & Safety Program Director.

Dr. Lin said when traffic is heavy and slow, like in the video, drivers should merge late.

“I know psychologically people like to merge early, including myself, but from the traffic perspective and the safety perspective, it’s good to merge late,” Dr. Lin said.

However, drivers approaching a closure or accident when traffic is light and speeds are high should merge early. Lin said merging early in heavy and slow traffic could create more backups or another accident.

Florida Highway Patrol officials suggest listening to the direction of law enforcement on scene. Patience is key.

Print this article Back to Top