Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Caution urged at merging
of 2 highways

Question: I live in Waipio and take the H-2 freeway every day. Right where the H-1/ H-2 splits, the H-2 has two lanes. As soon as you get on the H-2, there is an onramp from Kamehameha Highway. There is no yield sign; there is just a merge. Who has to yield? Every day, there are cars just cutting in from Kamehameha Highway without slowing down. It's an accident waiting to happen. Is the state going to put up a "yield" sign?

Answer: This is a situation in which drivers coming onto the freeway and those already on it have to use common sense as dictated by the road conditions.

The state Department of Transportation does not plan on posting a yield sign at the location you cite.

"Since these are two major roadways merging, it is a much different merging situation than one between a main roadway and smaller side street," where one group of drivers has the right of way, said Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa.

There is nothing in state law that specifically addresses who should yield when cars merge onto a freeway.

However, the Hawaii Drivers Manual says drivers entering the freeway should slow or stop if it is congested, but those already on the freeway should leave the right lane open to merging traffic or to make space for merging cars.

"The rule of thumb is that Kamehameha Highway drivers entering the H-2 freeway are advised to slow or stop if it is congested, while those heading northbound on the H-2 freeway are advised to leave the right lane open to merging traffic or to leave space for merging cars," Ishikawa said.

The drivers manual advises slowing down or stopping near the entrance of a freeway onramp if the freeway is congested. You should not stop at the end of the entrance lane because it's "difficult and dangerous to attempt to enter freeway traffic" if you do so.

"When the entrance lane is clear, use your turn signal to indicate that you are going to merge into the freeway traffic lane; then increase the speed of your vehicle to match that of oncoming freeway traffic," according to the manual.

For drivers already on the freeway: "The right lane should remain open for traffic entering and leaving the freeway as much as possible. If you are in the right lane, allow space for entering vehicles."

Q: I have a bunch of frequent-flier miles (on American and United) that will never get used. Are any airlines or organizations accepting donations of mileage points to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina?

A: Many airlines, including American and United, are accepting donated miles to help relief agencies and victims in the aftermath of the hurricane. Contact the airlines directly.

The American Red Cross -- www.redcross.org/donate/donatemiles.html -- already had existing "charitable mile agreements" with many airlines.

Airlines are allowing travelers to designate miles for the Red Cross, Salvation Army or other agencies.


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