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Who Is to Blame in a Merging Accident?

Most Chicago-area drivers have to merge several times a day. Unfortunately, many aren't doing it correctly.

A recent incident involving three vehicles in Oswego should give us pause to consider who has, and who does not have, the right of way in highway traffic merge situations. Should an accident occur in such a merge situation, who will be held responsible?

Oswego police say the two vehicles were attempting to merge at an intersection when they collided. One of the involved vehicles then struck a third. The drivers of the two merging vehicles were each given tickets for failure to yield to merging traffic.

Many drivers expect traffic to move to a vacant lane so they can move into the traffic flow. Although this may be polite, it is not required. The drivers already on the highway have the right-of-way; it is the merging vehicle's responsibility to find a safe path into traffic.

Another key consideration when merging is to always keep an eye on the traffic in front of you. When merging, drivers tend to look to their left, and over their left shoulder to the rear. In heavy traffic, this can divert your focus of what is in front of you and lead to a rear-end collision. Too often, drivers see an opening and then, in a harried attempt to get into traffic, end up accelerating right into the vehicle ahead of them.

Often, but not always, the person doing the merging will be considered at-fault for causing a car accident. Next time you're out on Chicago's highways, keeping these tips in mind can help you avoid an accident.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Three hurt in Oswego car accident," June 10, 2012.

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