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O Munificent Guru: Suppose you are doing 70 in the right lane of an interstate. There is heavy traffic to your left. You approach an entrance ramp and see a car entering at 50 mph. Who has the right of way? I know the polite answer is move to the left and let him in. But there is a semi to your left! Should he slow down and try to merge? Who is at fault if there is a collision? -- Timorous Traveler

Dear Traveler: We feel timorous every time we take the Markham Street exit off the Interstate 30 bridge.

Maybe someday there will be a new bridge, built to accommodate today's volume of traffic and not the volume back in 1965. But we digress.

Merging drivers should keep three things in mind.

First, use the on-ramp, also known as the acceleration lane, to get up to interstate speed.

Second, prepare for the merge by using a turn signal and looking for an open space.

Third, don't hesitate. But do remember that vehicles already on the highway have the right of way.

Bonus fourth! Never come to a stop at the end of the acceleration lane. That way lies madness and danger.

Who is at fault when there's a collision? See above, right of way. But every accident is different, and it would be indiscreet for us to paint with a brush too broad. Leave that to judges.

A recent column dealt with traffic volume, and truck traffic volume, on Interstate 40 between North Little Rock and Memphis. Some readers found this information to be, as usual, confusing and contradictory. As GIs like to say: If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with baloney sauce.

So we went back to the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The department graciously sent a cornucopia of numbers.

The data are from 2001-18, and tell the number of vehicles and the percentage of trucks that traverse the interstate at Lonoke, Forrest City and Lehi, the latter in Crittenden County near West Memphis. What started this discussion was a drive on this highway, and our frequent exclamation: Holy cow, there's a lot of truck traffic!

Let's keep it simple.

In 2001 at Lonoke, 30,000 vehicles went by, of which 43 percent were trucks.

In 2018 at Lonoke, 37,000 vehicles went by, of which 57 percent were trucks.

In 2001 at Forrest City, 31,000 vehicles went by, of which 41 percent were trucks.

In 2018 at Forrest City, 35,000 vehicles went by, of which 56 percent were trucks.

In 2001 at Lehi, 37,000 vehicles went by, of which 49 percent were trucks.

In 2018 at Lehi, 36,000 vehicles went by, of which 57 percent were trucks.

We will leave readers to make their own interpretation of the numbers. Department spokesman David Nilles also tells us that the increase in truck traffic may be attributed to growth in shipping in the Dallas, Houston and Nashville metroplexes.

Metro on 06/08/2019

Print Headline: DRIVETIME MAHATMA: In merging, getters-on have rules


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Archived Comments

  • LR1955
    June 8, 2019 at 1:14 p.m.

    Timorour Traveler: I recommend you not be in the right lane when approaching entrance/exit ramps to/from the interstate. Poor planning on your part.