Merge like a zipperPublished 11:59am Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The saying goes there are two seasons in Minnesota: winter and road construction.
It’s road construction season again, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation is urging motorists to do the zipper merge when they encounter multiple lanes becoming a single lane.
We couldn’t agree more.
If you don’t know what the zipper merge is, allow us to tell you.
When two or more lanes become a single lane, for years it was common for motorists to begin lining up in single file. They thought that getting in a long line would speed up the process. Truckers or drivers of larger vehicles often would block the second lane to prevent those ornery line budgers.
But that is old thinking. Research has shown the budgers were right. Motorists ought to use the available roadway, forming two lines (if there are two lanes), then merge alternately like a zipper at the point the roadway becomes one lane.
It actually makes sense, if you consider the benefits:
• It reduces the backup distances by about 40 percent.
• Lanes move at the same rate, which creates a sense of fairness.
• It reduces crashes and congestion.
The best part is that by having a designated spot where drivers are supposed to merge, it reduces the eagerness to merge early, which only increases the likelihood of traffic crashes. The cars merge in one area, at the zipper, rather than all over the place.
Be a smart driver. Do the zipper merge.