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Transportation & Infrastructure

Approaching construction on the highway? Experts say the "zipper merge" can help

gobankingrates.com reports that Michigan is the most expensive state to own a car.
flickr user Jeff B
/
http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM
Hurry up and wait near East Lansing.

Everybody has their own philosophy when it comes to merging in construction zones.

Conventional wisdom on the roads seems to be that when faced with an approaching merge, you should just get over as soon as you can and just wait for your turn like a good little driver.

The people whizzing by in the open lane are looked down upon - morally corrupt drivers making a BAD decision refusing to get in line and wait for their turn. 

Watching the other drivers zoom ahead makes you feel like this:

Hold on tight.
Credit autonational.co.uk
Hold on tight.

Well now we're getting some clarity on this issue. We're hearing more and more about the "zipper merge." Use up all the lanes you can to the point of the merge, and then take turns.

You're each a "tooth" in the zipper. Take turns. Turn on some relaxing music and make it happen. 

Here's how the friendly folks in Minnesota ask you to do it:

http://youtu.be/ZcPby71TNC0

That state's Department of Transportation lists these benefits of the zipper merge:

  • 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

It's kumbaya on the roadways. 
Don't try to be a traffic cop like this KUOW listener in Seattle:

http://cpa.ds.npr.org/kuow/audio/2014/07/723I90Feedback.mp3

If you do, you might just get a visit from this fella, and no one wants that:

h/t Bond Huberman

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