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If the zipper merge works so well, why does it make so many drivers angry?

Merging is a constant frustration for drivers. It doesn’t matter if you’re just learning how to drive, or if you’ve been driving for 30 years, successfully merging into a lane of traffic doesn’t just depend on skill—it often depends on the mood of other drivers. Although some drivers will merge without the slightest concern for others, proper merging is a delicate balance of timing, consideration, and the ability to gauge other drivers’ moods.

Since merging onto busy highways or through construction zones is a major cause of traffic congestion, the Department of Transportation suggests that late merging, also known as zipper merging, could actually help decrease bottlenecks and improve the flow of traffic when merges are required. Unfortunately, the zipper merge is controversial and can actually cause more harm than good.

Risks of the Zipper Merge

Although the zipper merge makes sense in theory—motorists utilize both lanes until the on-ramp or lane ends, where they then take turns—in practice, taking turns isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. If you’ve been inching along in the open lane for a long time and the car next to you stayed in the closing lane to bypass traffic, why should you let him in? This resentment often results in a complete lack of cooperation at the merge point, causing further back-ups and the potential for collisions. Increased understanding of the benefits of the zipper merge and further cooperation among drivers could go a long way towards easing the frustrating, time-consuming, and energy-wasting effects of major traffic back-ups.

For more information on zipper merging, traffic accidents, and driving rights and responsibilities, feel free to browse our site for more articles, or contact us directly for a free consultation. We’re here to answer your questions and help you make sense of the law. Call now!

Darwyn L. Easley
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Attorney and Counsellor at Law

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Easley Law Firm

  • 10521 Judicial Drive
    Suite 205

    Fairfax, VA 22030
  • Phone: 703-865-6610
  • Fax: 703-842-6101
  • Toll Free: 888-386-3898
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