Cedar Mill
Community Website

Search the Cedar Mill News:

About The
Cedar Mill News

Volume 17, Issue 12
December 2019


The Zipper Merge
by Auveen Hajar

The roads can be a chaotic place that may be hard to understand. Filled with busy people who urgently need to go somewhere, and angry, road-raging drivers, the streets can also be an extremely dangerous place. Although the number of car-accident related deaths has started to decrease within the last decade, the number is still very high. According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 36,500 vehicle-related deaths occurred in 2018 alone, averaging out to about 100 deaths per day. It is important to stay safe on the roads and do your part to protect your life and the lives of thousands of other people in our community.

One of the most difficult parts about driving is merging. Merging into a single lane can be difficult, but necessary when two lanes are reduced to one. We have several of these situations in Cedar Mill. Barnes Road just west of Cedar Hills Bl., and Saltzman just as you pass the Library are notable.

regular merge diagram

A quick and easy lane change in the midst of light traffic to simply blend in with other cars generally keeps traffic moving, but when in heavy traffic, lane changes become tougher as it is important to fit into a smaller space when given an opportunity.

Often when drivers see that a lane is coming to an end, they will turn on their signal light to move into the new lane as soon as possible, thinking that getting out of a blocked lane as quickly as possible is the best way to merge into a new lane. Although many drivers think this is proper, it is not the safest way to move out of a diminishing lane. This strategy creates a sudden hold-up in moderate to heavy traffic, and sometimes leads to bad feelings between drivers.

zipper merge diagram

Instead, the “Zipper Merge” is a more effective way for drivers to get out of closed lanes in the midst of heavy traffic volumes. The “Zipper Merge” is when a driver moves all the way forward in the lane that is ending, and waits until the lane closure to merge out of their lane.

Often, this is regarded as “cutting the line to avoid traffic” and can sometimes be regarded as impolite; but this is not the case! According to multiple studies, it has been proven that this is not only the safer strategy, but zipper merging can reduce congestion by as much as 40%, meaning that people can get to their destinations quicker! It also reduces “stacking,” when cars waiting to move clog an intersection.

Although parts of our driving are habitual and come naturally given the circumstances of a scenario, it is important that we do not merge out of a closing lane as soon as possible on the roads. Who knows… it could even end up saving you some time or even your life!

Previous article


Next article

Sign Up Now to receive
The Cedar Mill News by email each month

fb like
Like us on Facebook for timely updates

Cedar Mill News
Past Issues

Published monthly by Cedar Mill News LLC
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291
© 2018