Zipper Merge 101: MDOT Says This Is What You Should Be Doing
Living in Michigan means you're guaranteed to get stuck in construction and there is a good chance you will find yourself in a zipper merge situation.
There is a debate among Michiganders on what is the proper way to do a zipper merge. Thankfully we have a clear-cut answer from MDOT on what is the right and wrong thing to do.
WHAT IS A ZIPPER MERGE?
Drivers use both lanes until just before one ends, then merge like the teeth of a zipper coming together: one from this side, one from that side, hopefully with minimal slowdown.
THE WRONG WAY TO ZIPPER MERGE
According to MDOT hogging both lanes is the wrong way to Zipper Merge. It's something generally done by larger vehicles or semi-trucks who don't want to allow people in the lane that is closed ahead to pass them.
THE RIGHT WAY TO ZIPPER MERGE
When there is moderate to heavy traffic you should use the zipper merge. Drivers should use both lanes, with drivers taking turns alternating into the open lane. It's just like a zipper, hence the name.
Chris Brookes a work zone delivery engineer for MDOT told WXYZ
“If we have one single file line it is going to be twice as long as if we were in both lanes here, so that is really what we want to reduce is the length of that backup, When we start backing up past these signs here that is when we want motorist to start using both lanes.”
Rob Brenke, the executive director of the American Council of Engineering Companies, also weighed in on the Zipper Merge and what happens when people play traffic cop and block both lanes so the other person can't pass them.
"I think that’s causing a lot of the biggest problem because now you are backing up two lanes even further, and it could back up into another interchange and cause problems for the behind.”
IS BLOCKING LANES IN A ZIPPER MERGING AGAINST THE LAW?
Yes! not only is it against the law to block a lane of traffic before the merge. According to Michigan State Police, drivers could get a ticket for impeding traffic, a lane violation or careless driving.
MSP told WXYZ that this summer, troopers will be looking out for more speeders, reckless driving, and following too closely since those are the traffic behaviors that can cause deadly crashes.