TTSAO Training Tip – Proper Procedures for Joining and Exiting a Major Highway

This is a challenge for any new driver and can present a problem for experienced drivers if they are not careful.

On Ramps
To join onto a major highway, you have to take a ramp on to the lane beside the main lanes of the highway. This lane is called the Acceleration Lane, which makes sense because you need to accelerate to join the other vehicles on the highway.

When taking a tractor-trailer onto a major highway, it is important to match the speed of the other vehicles. This is called ‘finding your Merge Speed’. If you can properly match that speed by a) accelerating the complete distance of the Acceleration Lane and matching the top end speeds of the other traffic or b) finding the right ‘Merge Speed’ that allows you to fill a hole in the traffic, you will be safely entering the travel lanes.

So, if the traffic is moving at maximum speed when you enter the Acceleration Lane, use the lane to speed up to a level where you can match the speed of the surrounding traffic. The entire Acceleration Lane is available to use for this purpose. If traffic is slower or at a standstill, match that slow speed to find a hole that your vehicle can fit into without being aggressive or unsafe.

Off Ramps
When preparing to exit a major highway, be sure to be in the right-hand lane well before the exit, so as to avoid cutting off another driver. This can be accomplished by having the student/driver read the signs before any exit to maneuver the truck to the right-hand lane.

Enter the exiting lane early, called the Deceleration Lane for a reason, and don’t get on the brakes until the vehicle is in the lane. Then apply the brakes to harness the momentum and avoid taking too much G force into the corner.

Remember a loaded tractor-trailer has a much higher center of gravity than any car, so the effect of entering a corner of the Off Ramp, without breaking the momentum, can prompt a rollover.

The yellow speed signs on Off Ramps are not just cautionary, they are setting the safe speed, and even that speed is higher than what your vehicle should be travelling at.

So, the two main points on this are to always use a ‘Merge Speed’ when entering a highway and break your momentum prior to the turn when exiting

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