THE West Australian Government has bent the road rules in a promotional video featuring children in pedal cars that’s meant to teach drivers how to merge.
The 30-second video produced by the Department of Main Roads and titled “Merging: It’s child’s play”, is meant to help educate Perth motorists on how to use 56 new European-style merging lanes added to the city’s freeway network.
However, instead of using the video to demonstrate to Perth motorists how the road rules apply, the video instead suggests that drivers in one of the most merger-unfriendly cities in Australia be nice to each other.
According to the state’s road rules, when two lanes merge into one the vehicle in front has the right of way. However, if there are multiple marked lanes and one ends, the car that’s merging must give way to the vehicles in the next lane.
According to the video, Perth’s drivers should move over that a merging driver can slip into the lane as early as possible.
“Get up to speed and indicate just like changing lanes,” the video advises as a child steers his toy car while running Fred Flintstone-like to propel his ride down the clearly marked merging lane. “Try to merge as soon as it is safe to do so.
“All the other drivers should leave a gap in the traffic or move to the right to make more room,” it says.
But there’s the rub. Under the road rules, the merging car must give way to all other traffic, meaning Perth motorists don’t have to open up a gap or move to the right.
Moving over for merging traffic is good etiquette, but it isn’t a road rule.
Wheels has asked the state’s Main Roads Department for comment. Another government spokesperson told Wheels that Perth’s drivers were among the worst in Australia when it came to merging lanes.
WA Transport Minister Bill Marmion said his department had produced the video after it “identified the need for further education on vehicle merging practice”.
"[The video campaign] is focused on showing that correct driver behaviour when merging is 'child's play' and easy when you know how, with the campaign featuring a number of our future drivers," Marmion said.
“Our first priority is the safety of all road users and ensuring everyone who drives on Perth's freeways and highways are clear on how to use the new merge lanes," he said.
"While merge lines are common practice in other Australian cities, this type of concept is relatively new to Perth.”
The Main Roads video is in stark contrast to others on the same topic, produced by both the West Australian Government and the state’s police force. They all warn the merging vehicle to give way to other traffic at all times when crossing a broken line.