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Highways | Merging | Passing




Highways are roads that have faster speed limits, which allow motorists to commute to their destination more quickly than regular roads. Whenever you merge onto the highway it's important to match the speed of the vehicles already on the highway. This ensures that we don't interrupt the flow of traffic and is much safer for us than merging at a slower speed. Merging on the highway at too slow of a speed is extremely dangerous because you could get rear ended and cause lane conflicts and complications. Get your speed up while in the acceleration lane and merge onto the highway safely. Many of the highway interchanges in and around Halifax have long outdated designs which means the acceleration lanes are shorter than more modern interchanges. This is why it's super important that you are familiar with any interchange that you merge or exit the highway from.



There's a handy pothole section at the bottom of this page to show you how you can get reimbursed by the Nova Scotia Government if your vehicle is damaged by a pothole.






How To Drive On The Highway

Highway Driving Tips



  • Stay in the right lane as much as possible.

  • Maintain a safe following distance between yourself and other vehicles.

  • Check your blind spots by shoulder checking when you change lanes.

  • Don't hang out in another vehicle's blind spot.

  • Always ensure that the left lane is flowing ahead of you slightly faster so that they can pass you safely.

Special Hazards of Highway Driving



Highway Hypnosis - occurs mainly on highways where there are few challenges. Explained it in this video clip:

Velocitation - this occurs when you drive at a high rate of speed for an extended period of time, then exit the highway. It will be a lot more difficult to adjust to lower speed limits. You can prevent velocitation by looking at your speedometer frequently. Explained it in this video clip:

In the Alberta oilfield the number one cause of injury and death is not working on the oil rigs, it's driving. It is so much of an issue that the government has built highway rest areas for workers to stop at, and take a quick nap or break from driving.

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Highway Interchanges



When exiting a highway, keep your speed up until you're in the exit ramp and then come onto those brakes as much as you need to in order to slow down safely. Always approach ramps and curves at the recommended speed. When in doubt about what the safest speed is for a curve you should reduce your speed even more while approaching it. Never trust a curve. The yellow sign indicates the safest speed for that curve but it's not a speed limit. This recommended speed is calculated, by the highway's engineers so you can trust it.


Cloverleaf Interchanges are the most common type in Nova Scotia and they're a very outdated design. As the name suggests they are shaped like a cloverleaf so the curves and ramps are sharper than more modern interchanges. For these interchanges you may need to brake a little on the highway to set yourself up with a safe speed for the exit ramp. That's okay.


Driving Around Snowplows





Merging On The Highway



Shoulder Checks are essential for all drivers to learn, especially when driving on highways. They are the most important thing you'll do while driving. Match the speed of highway traffic so that you don't endanger yourself or others. Be confident. I guarantee you that other motorists will assist you in getting onto the highway when you merge confidently.

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How To Merge On The Highway



  • Make sure that the vehicle in front of you maintains speed and does not slow.

  • Gradually build your up speed in the acceleration lane while glancing at your driver's side mirror

  • Activate your turn signal early. This let's drivers already on the highway that you plan to merge and gives them a chance to make an adjustment.

  • Check your mirrors and left blind spot by shoulder checking, this is absolutely critical.


  • Then watch what other drivers are doing and adjust your to match their speed.

  • Merge onto the highway as though you are trying join a team of people that are already skipping rope without breaking their flow.


How To Merge And Drive On The Highway

Don't hang out in the left lane. The left lane is for vehicles who are to driving a bit faster. If you have to pass you can do so but then return to the lane right away once you've finished passing.


A Cop Explains Highway Flow And "Left Lane Losers"

The Move Over Law



When and emergency vehicle has its lights on while on the side of the highway slow to 60 km/hr and change to the next lane if it is safe to do so. If you can’t change lanes just slow down that much more.





The Move Over Law 🚑 🚒 🚔

Halifax Cop Jumps Over Highway Median To Avoid A Speeding Truck



This crash happened in 2017 on Highway 102 at Exit 2. Halifax Regional Police were on a scene investigating a fatal crash when a pickup that was speeding in the left lane obliterated a police motorcycle. The officer jumped over the median to avoid getting hit.


When an emergency vehicle is moving you have to yield to it



Emergency vehicles like ambulances, fire trucks and police vehicles using their flashing lights and sirens have the right of way. When one of these vehicles approaches you from ahead or behind with its blue or red lights flashing, move to the right side of the road and stop. Always yield to emergency vehicles when they're responding to an emergency with their lights or sirens activated. They're usually trying to get somewhere quickly to save someone's life.

Emergency Health Services - Vehicle Flagging



During major storms where multiple vehicles are off of the highway. Emergency responders will wrap blue or sometimes yellow tape around vehicles to indicate that they have already dealt with them and that no one is trapped in the vehicle.


How To Drive Through Curves And Corners

What Does Rubbernecking Mean?


Rubbernecking - Rubbernecking happens when motorists are driving by the scene of an accident and they stare at it. This usually causes them to rear end the vehicle in front of them or it causes them to leave their lane which creates another accident. This is common and it's very dangerous. Slowing down to look at an accident on the side of the road is a major cause of traffic jams. Emergency vehicle lights are designed to get your attention. It’s okay to look around when you see them but remember, quick glances only then return your eyes to what’s in front of you.



The Last Vehicle In A Stopped Line Of Traffic

When you're the last vehicle in a stopped line of traffic, always watch your rear view mirror to check for vehicles approaching quickly from behind. Leave extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you. If you get rear ended the extra space will allow your car to slide ahead instead of being pushed into the vehicle in front of you.

Always Be Ready To Stop



This 3 ton truck rear ended a vehicle that was stopped in heavy traffic during morning rush hour on Highway 103 by Bayer's Lake. There was heavy fog that morning.


How To Drive On The Highway Like A Boss





Things To Consider Before Passing Another Vehicle On The Highway



  • Is there a passing lane coming up in the next few kilometres?

  • Does my vehicle have the power to pass fairly quickly?

  • Is someone behind me already passing too?

  • Don’t accelerate into the vehicle you are passing.

  • Do you have a clear line of sight?


Look closely at the below video. At first you would think that this is a reckless driver, but look closer. They begin to pass with a broken line then the broken line ends as we approach a curve. The driver is clearly not familiar with the area. These are the things that will get you on the highway, and sometimes these hazards are hard to see coming ahead of time. A good habit is to never pass at night on a single lane highway. It's also why being familiar with the area you're driving in is crucial.




Highway 103 Near Miss

Highway 104 near miss


The formation of a pothole happens in steps



Asphalt roads are the most popular solution around the world due to the low cost. Asphalt is known as a flexible pavement because it does not distribute weight across a large area as with concrete. After the deterioration of the surface layer, or first layer cracks begin to form. When cracks form, they allow water to seep under the surface layer and into the Base Course. The water will usually get trapped here and eventually wear through and deteriorate the Sub Grade. This is made worse when temperatures drop below freezing causing the water to freeze and expand. This frozen water is referred to as an ‘Ice Lens’.






N.S. Public Works – How to File a Claim for Vehicle or Property Damage Potholes, flooding, and other hazards



"If you have incurred damage to your vehicle or property and you believe the province may be responsible, you can submit a claim to the Insurance and Risk Management, Department of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services, for consideration. Compensation is paid when an investigation finds that the province was negligent in their duties and that negligence resulted in your damage. In other words, when the province is found legally liable for the damage sustained. However, you are expected make efforts to minimize damage to your property. If you do not, you may be held responsible for part of the damage cost."






What is the claim investigation process?

All claims are investigated and reviewed by qualified, internal insurance adjusters. They determine the extent to which, if any, the province may be liable for the damage. Each claim is investigated and considered on its individual facts. We gather information from you, department staff, any third parties who may be witness to the incident, and those who may have been carrying out work at or near the site of the incident.




Deadline: within 30 days – Submit your claim within 30 days of the incident to ensure that your claim meets the notice requirement. Use our Claim Form and send evidence to support your claim such as photos or video.




Submit your claim by email fax or surface mail:

902-424-2325 (fax)


Monday to Friday

8:30 am–4:30 pm

Insurance & Risk Management

PO Box 2205

Halifax, NS B3J 3C4 



N.S. Public Works – How to report a pothole



Contact us immediately, 7 days a week, to report a hazard:

potholes, washouts, fallen tree branches, objects on the road, flooding

TIR Operations Contact Centre (OCC)




Halifax’s Pothole Reporting Page







Highway Design


  • The profile of the road refers to how the road is sloped or how steep it is.

  • A cross section runs perpendicular across the road.

  • A crowned road has a rounded cross section. A crowned road will shed water more easily than a flat road.

  • Super elevation is the term used to refer to the elevation of a curve.

  • The faster the design speed of a road the higher the bank or elevation.

  • The radius of a curve refers to how sharp the curve is.

  • The tighter the radius of a curve the more centrifugal force that will be required to maintain traction.

  • A curve or "curved section" will usually have a sloped profile which helps a vehicle maintain better traction by reducing the amount of load on the tires while in a curve and increasing centrifugal force of the vehicle.

  • When designing a road engineers consider many different factors like speed, obstacles, safety, and traffic.

  • Speed limits are determined by the geometry of the road.

  • The 3 main considerations when designing a road are the profile, cross section, and alignment.

  • All of these factors are what create friction and friction is what gives a vehicle traction.

  • Banked curves are more comfortable for the people in the vehicle because they push you further into your seat instead of pulling you to the outside. They also reduce the risk of a roll over by reducing the vehicle's centre of gravity.

  • Sight distance and field of view are also considered when designing a curve to ensure drivers can safely see around the bend.

  • The entry and exit points of a curve are referred to as the transition sections. This is where drivers transition from their current speed and adjust to enter or exit the curve by adjusting their speed.

  • If a curve has too much of a turning radius (too sharp) then a vehicle's headlights will not be as effective because headlights light the area directly in front of the vehicle and don't compensate for the curve.

  • There is no one single standard for how a road is designed. It varies by province or state.

  • Engineers recommend what the speed of a road should be but they do not have final say when deciding what the speed limit will be.

How Are Highways Designed?

Removing paint markings



White lines along the centre of roads have been removed in parts of the UK, with some experts saying it encourages motorists to slow down.



Drivers change their behaviour because they no longer feel that they have their own lane, so they tend to be more attentive. They also become more aware of vehicles around them.


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