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In traffic, should you merge early or late?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

On the interstate, drivers may encounter a construction zone or a portion of the road that has been closed off. This means that traffic has to merge because the road is being condensed down from the original number of traffic lanes. 

What many people will do is to merge early. As soon as they see the backup forming, they merge over into the appropriate lane. But other drivers will continue on until the point at which the two lanes come together. They will pass the stopped traffic and merge late, cutting into the backed-up traffic lane at the front, rather than getting in line at the back. Which way is correct?

The zipper merge

The second example is actually correct, and it is known as the zipper merge. Essentially, vehicles are supposed to drive as far as they can in both open lanes. When they reach the point where traffic in one lane has to switch to the other, then everyone stops and takes turns. This is safer and more efficient, making better use of the roadway than having everyone stop and wait in the same lane.

Unfortunately, many drivers are unaware of the zipper merge. They believe that you are supposed to merge at the back of the line and wait for everyone else to go through. In some cases, these drivers may even try to swerve to cut off or block cars that are going by them. This can lead to road rage and car accidents.

In other words, even if you understand how the zipper merge works, you could be injured in an accident caused by someone who doesn’t. If you suffer serious injuries, be sure you know how to seek financial compensation for medical bills and related costs.