A classical way to represent vehicle interactions at merges at the microscopic scale is to combine a gap-acceptance model with a car-following algorithm. However, in congested conditions (when a queue spills back on the major road), outputs of such a combination may be irrelevant if anticipatory aspects of vehicle behaviours are disregarded (like in single-level gap-acceptance models). Indeed, the insertion decision outcomes are so closely bound to the car-following algorithm that irrelevant results are produced. On the one hand, the insertion decision choice is sensitive to numerical errors due to the car-following algorithm. On the other hand, the priority sharing process observed in congestion cannot be correctly reproduced because of the constraints imposed by the car-following on the gap-acceptance model. To get over these issues, more sophisticated gap-acceptance algorithms accounting for cooperation and aggressiveness amongst drivers have been recently developed (multi-level gap-acceptance models). Another simpler solution, with fewer parameters, is investigated in this paper. It consists in introducing a relaxation procedure within the car-following rules and proposing a new insertion decision algorithm in order to loosen the links between both model components. This approach will be shown to accurately model the observed flow allocation pattern in congested conditions at an aggregate scale. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.