Understanding the Zipper Merge

5 August 2016 - By Eugene Herbert

You must have noticed how vindictive  drivers can be – particularly
if a Taxi is involved -  when it comes to sharing space, but more
importantly allowing another vehicle into the open lane as traffic works cause
congestion and reduction of lanes.


In the States  traffic experts are talking  of the “Zipper
Merge “, a merging technique aimed at preventing both traffic bottlenecks
and crashes near work zones.


When employing the zipper merge, motorists don’t immediately merge when
approaching a work zone lane closure. Vehicles continue using both lanes of
traffic until reaching the designated merge area. Then, vehicles in the closed
lane alternate entry into the open lane.


So what different you ask?  Most drivers were taught to use
the early-merge method: If your lane is closed up ahead, try to merge as
soon as possible. Don’t wait until the last moment – that’s rude.


When traffic is moving along at highway speeds, early merging is fine.
But studies have demonstrated the shortcomings of the early-merge method in
heavy traffic. It can lead to fender-benders and long traffic delays. In
contrast, the zipper merge promotes greater safety by reducing differences in
speed between the two lanes and creating a more orderly process for taking
turns in merging, supporters argue.


The zipper merge cuts the overall length of traffic backup by as much as
40%, according to Transport authorities in the US.


But convincing drivers to change their habits is never an easy task,
some States in the US launched promotional campaigns — both using a light
hearted touch. To watch the Kansas video on how to zipper merge, click on the
link or image below the headline. To watch the Show Me state’s quirkier
video, which features commentary from experts far too young to drive, click here.


When all is said and done it makes sense, and when viewed through the eyes
of a child it makes it easier to take it to heart.


Till next time – Drive with courtesy and attention.


Eugene Herbert





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