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Think zippers when it comes to merging

We seem to be getting a plethora of phone calls with adrenaline-soaked drivers having just survived, or anticipating the upcoming, merge zones in the Interstate 11 roadwork area. No matter where you drive in the summer months, you will all experience roadwork somewhere.

I have spoken before and will continue to preach on the zipper merge. In light traffic, a simple lane change will keep traffic running smoothly. In moderate to heavy traffic, the plan needs to change. Whether it’s out of perceived politeness or ignorance, many motorists begin getting over into a single lane as soon as they see a sign instructing them to do so. This practice wastes a good lane and causes unnecessary delays, stringing vehicles out for far longer than need be.

Traffic experts suggest using both lanes right up until one of the two lanes actually closes. At that point, an alternating “you go, I go” method (think zipper) will get everyone more expediently past the obstruction.

Of course, the zipper merge depends on a key ingredient: reciprocating grace and cooperation. Too often, a driver behind the wheel of a car in the lane that chose to merge, like, 2 miles ago, sees Johnny-come-lately in the other lane as some kind of road rogue looking to pull a fast one. The response is usually a lack of cooperation.

So, to review, as you approach a two-lane-merging-into-one-lane scenario, pick the shorter lane (ideally they would be about equal in length) and remain in your lane until the point of merge, then alternate.

I am including the link to an instructional video that I highly recommend to explain the concept; it explains in picture-perfect detail the benefits of the practice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX0I8OdK7Tk

Let’s use both lanes. Let’s all get along. Let’s keep all of our fingers (especially the longest one) inside the vehicle at all times. Good luck out there.

Tina Ransom is a dispatcher with Boulder City Police Department. She is coordinator of the Boulder City Citizen’s Academy.

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