Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Zippered Merge

Let's talk about something really important today.

When you see a sign like this what do you do?  

Do you immediately get over into the right lane as soon as you see the sign?

Do you expect that everyone else should get over into the right lane when they see the sign?

If you do, I hate to break it to you, but you are WRONG.

I'll say that again.  If you are using this technique, you are not merging traffic in the correct manner.

I know, I know.  You hate those people who drive by in the left lane, all the way until the last second and then try to work their way back in.  They're annoying, aren't they?!?  I mean they are just thinking about themselves and just causing problems trying to get back in.

But guess what, they are right.  They are doing it correctly.  And they are not the ones causing traffic problems.

You are.

That is especially true for you mister I'm-going-to-drive-in-the-middle-of-the-two-lanes-semi-driver looking to keep people from driving all the way up to the merge point.

By moving over too quickly (and especially blocking the left lane before the merge) all you are doing is moving the choke point back further, causing traffic to back up even further back.

No matter how much it may pain you, the correct technique is to drive all the way up to the point where you are forced over and then to merge.  This is the Zippered Merge, and it is recommended by nearly every Department of Transportation.  Study after study recommends it.   This way uses all available road space and reduces traffic by 40%.  It is designed to keep both lanes moving and can be performed at higher speeds (dependent on the traffic level).  This is especially preferred to the stop and start method we get now.

Now, I get it, sometimes it doesn't really matter because the traffic is so light, you can get over whenever you want to.

But the next time you find yourself in real traffic, think twice about moving over too early and just stay in the lane as long as you can.  

That way you can help all of us keep moving.

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