In times of backed-up traffic on the Interstate, I am the type to merge early because that is what I’ve been taught to do. During road construction season in Minnesota, drivers are hit with road closures, detours, and reduced lanes. This means bumper-to-bumper traffic. In this scenario, 99.9% of the time my road rage likes to make a stance on what I define as “stupid drivers.” Mainly, it’s the cause of merging into reduced lanes, and unfortunately merging into one lane.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been merging early because those who wait the very last minute to merge are dumb and don’t know how to drive. WRONG! The Minnesota Department of Transportation, also known as MnDOT, encourages drivers to use all lanes during backup and to do the “zipper merge.” Well, what exactly is a “zipper merge?”
A zipper merge is when a lane is closed in a construction zone, a zipper merge occurs when motorists use both lanes of traffic until reaching the defined merge area, and then alternate in “zipper” fashion into the open lane. (MnDOT)
So, essentially we’re supposed to be merging late. This merge calls for a safe and smooth transition into single lane traffic. However, the zipper merge is only to be used during slow-moving traffic. When there are no traffic backups, continue in merging sooner.
Here are the benefits:
- Reduces differences in speeds between two lanes
- Reduces the overall length of traffic backup by as much as 40 percent
- Reduces congestion on freeway interchanges
- Creates a sense of fairness and equity that all lanes are moving at the same rate
I’ve been deceived for so long for what I thought was a citizen right in merging early. I’m sorry for merging early. Zipper merge I’m all yours!