|Volume 17, Issue 12||
The Zipper Merge
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.
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!
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