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Truck Safety Expert Witness:
Exiting the Emergency Lane

By Don Asa & Jim Acock
4 of 4


Trucking Safety Expert Witness Articles


Blending in With Traffic

If a driver must move into the emergency lane, then they must eventually face the situation of moving out of the emergency lane. This is called "blending" with the traffic. The emergency lane is no different in this aspect than any acceleration lane. Almost every acceleration lane dumps into the emergency lane. For all practical purposes the emergency lane serves as the acceleration lane, and the driver can accelerate up to the point where they can blend into traffic.

This “blending” point is when you have attained a speed close to the speed of the traffic (50 to 55mph) and the truck has an obvious place to move into traffic. If the truck gets up to 45 to 50 mph and the driver looks into the rear view mirror and sees that someone in the right lane of traffic has put on their left turn signal as a reaction to you, then this may give the driver space to move into traffic. The driver must make sure that other vehicles the truck and that they are indeed seeing traffic make space.

Drivers should pay close attention as they build up to a practical speed to blend in with traffic. Imagine putting a machine into traffic at 15 or 20 mph when the traffic is traveling at 60 mph. This is a dangerous set of circumstances that the driver may have created. The driver should pay attention and drive the truck like the professional driver he is expected to be.

If the driver has been sitting in the emergency lane with their emergency flashers on, and they are ready to make a move, they should turn the flashers off and put the left turn signal on as they start to move with and into traffic. Turning your left signal on and beginning to move indicates the the truck is going from a stopped condition to a mobile condition. As soon as the truck changes modes, the driver should put on their turn signal on as they begin to gather speed. The driver should not turn it on while immobile.

To be parked in the emergency lane under any circumstances is concerning to oncoming motorists. The driver has to consider that oncoming motorists might have a number of things wrong, but there is one set of circumstances the driver can bet on: every oncoming motorist is conditioned to drive on interstate highways without any intrusions from left or right (except at designated on ramps). The oncoming motorists expect no intrusions, so their reaction time should be expected to be delayed.

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Related Articles and Pages:
NO PARKING! in the Emergency Lane! 3

NO PARKING! in the Emergency Lane! 2

Improper use of the Emergency Lane! 1

The Liability of Parking a Big Rig on the shoulder.


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