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Do You Know How to Do the Zipper Merge?

Drivers who learn how to “zipper merge” can reduce their risk of a motor vehicle accident. When drivers fail to properly merge in road construction zones or where lanes end, they put themselves and other motorists at risk of serious injury. For this reason, AAA and transportation departments are urging motorists to learn and adopt this simple driving maneuver.

What Is the Zipper Merge?

The zipper merge is exactly as it sounds. One vehicle goes forward from the lane that is ending, and another vehicle follows from the lane that is continuing onward. It looks just like a zipper and it facilitates smoother traffic flow through road construction zones, school zones, parking lots, and other areas where two or three-lane roads merge into one or two-lane roads. In most areas, these become bottlenecks and zipper merging helps keep the traffic flowing.

The zipper merge maneuver requires drivers to drive to the furthest possible point in the lane that is ending before merging. In the past, this was discouraged. In fact, many motorists view it as “cutting in line.” However, the intensive study of traffic flows in construction zones demonstrated that zipper merging reduces traffic congestion and saves motorists time in their commute. More importantly, it reduces the risk of motor vehicle accidents.

The key to a successful zipper merge is to take it slow and move deliberately. Motorists should signal their intention to merge and motorists in the continuing lane should allow these vehicles to enter their lane of traffic in front of them. It’s a basic courtesy that costs nothing more than a second or two to complete.

Changing the Mindset

Many motorists are less than eager to adopt zipper merging. Many assert it is the driver’s fault for not merging earlier. It is a tough mindset to change, but it is necessary to improve road safety and reduce traffic congestion. While there is no legal requirement that obligates motorists to zipper merge or yield to merging drivers, it is a common courtesy that goes a long way.

With road construction season just down the road, drivers in Reno should learn how to do it before the cones go up. Doing so could prevent a rear-end accident, make it safer for road construction crews to operate, and speed up the completion of road construction projects that are slated to reduce traffic congestion throughout the region. 

- Kathleen A. Sigurdson Attorney At Law

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