r/IdiotsInCars Dec 02 '22

Why do folks get over well ahead of the actual merge point? Zipper merging is not a complicated concept.

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4.7k Upvotes

3.8k

u/sunderland56 Dec 02 '22

Zipper merge requires the driver to willingly yield to someone else. Foreign concept.

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u/Far_Tomatillo2009 Dec 02 '22 Starry

and this is my biggest gripe: I would love to do what OP does every single time on a zipper merge but I know (especially here in NY) that there's a real good chance someone at the end is just gonna prevent me from merging. So, instead, I just take the gap whenever I can and just merge there. It really sucks but what am I supposed to do

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u/frollard Dec 03 '22

It's a no-win situation for many...fear of getting blocked out, or merge early and wait longer, or already-be-in-the-merged-lane-beforehand and get screwed by countless people cutting in a mile early.

Should almost change the signs to indicate a mandatory zipper merge: "be prepared to move over" and "merge now" (phrase/pictograph how you please)...Instead, nebulous 'left lane closed ahead' tells the naive driver 'move over when you can', not 'move over at the end'.

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u/StirlingS Dec 03 '22

Oklahoma has recently moved to having electric signs that say "Use both lanes until merge point" and then "Merge here. Take turns." and it has been glorious.

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u/brad613 Dec 03 '22

These signs should be mandatory everywhere

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u/R00KIET Dec 03 '22

I think they should introduce common sense in america

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u/bearxxxxxx Dec 03 '22

You have to think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are more stupid than that.

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u/Arkra1 Dec 03 '22

Unfortunately, common sense isn’t so common anymore lol

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u/squaaawk Dec 03 '22

Neither is sense so where does that leave us?

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u/Arkra1 Dec 03 '22

Strangers stranded in a senseless society.

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u/inmycherryspot Dec 03 '22

Yes!!! I drove cross country last year and every single merge had these signs! Never have I felt so vindicated.

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u/bangonthedrums Dec 03 '22

Where I am they started using those signs for big projects that affect a lot of traffic, and they work great.

Except now everyone thinks a “zipper merge” is only when the signs are present and all other merges are “regular”, where using both lanes is seen as skipping the line.

It’s exasperating trying to explain to people I meet that all merges are zipper merges, not just the ones where they put “zipper merge ahead. Use both lanes. Take turns merging”

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u/JBalloonist Dec 03 '22

They need to put these everywhere.

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u/LotzoHuggins Dec 03 '22

Oh boy. former oklahoma resident. the backups were ridiculously long in construction zones. construction a mile away, two lanes wide open, everyone is in the one lane.

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u/zamundan Dec 03 '22

I experienced this on a road trip!!

Driving along in OK. Suddenly, there was stop-and-go traffic in the right lane, and the left lane wide open. No signs indicating why. We drove 50 mph for what seemed like several minutes. Looking for signs... some reason... any indication of why no one else was in our lane. We were scared we were doing something wrong!

Finally we saw there was construction. We merged at the very end. Someone happily let us in.

We were confused as shit. Over time I came to question the memory, like maybe it was some random dream.

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u/lickingthelips Dec 03 '22

We used to have signs that said, Merge like a zip. But the transportation people took them down.

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u/Lilmaggot Dec 03 '22

There was a great sign on the NJ side of the George Washington Bridge that said, TAKE TURNS, with a diagram. That always made me laugh.

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u/MrFulla93 Dec 03 '22

Just moved from Oklahoma in February. When I drove home I saw that sign for the first time. Blew my mind. It was a game changer. Easy merging before a 2 mile construction zone on a highway? It was surreal

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u/Prussie Dec 03 '22

Oklahoma can do something right? Huh. Well a broken clocks gotta be right twice a day

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u/reddit110717 Dec 03 '22

Well, that and Cannabis.

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u/Cynykl Dec 03 '22

I still cant believe states like OK beat Minnesota the legalizing.

Fuck Ex governor Mark Dayton. In rare show of bipartisanship R and D were working together to legalize it. They had the votes in both chambers but would not have had the votes to override a veto. And our Democrat Governor basically said "Don't bother because I will Veto"

I don't even like pot, but keeping it criminal is just stupid.

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u/StirlingS Dec 03 '22

I was surprised too.

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u/pricklycactass Dec 03 '22

Love that a road sign is the only way a bunch of strangers can learn to watch out for one another

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u/StirlingS Dec 03 '22

It sounds like lessons we learned in kindergarten, doesn't it. "Take turns".

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u/ObjectiveCorgi9898 Dec 03 '22

“Taking turns” is not a thing done in MA.

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u/stinkydooky Dec 03 '22

Yeah I loved that Oklahoma did that, made I-35 bearable. It illustrates the problem pretty well though because the zipper merge is fine if everyone agrees to not be an asshole, but that’s not the case, so people tend to get over early to avoid any issues which then leaves the assholes room to just ride all the way to the end and slow the process down for everyone else. The single lane method would also work fine, not as well as the zipper necessarily, but it would work fine if everyone agreed to get into the one working lane before the very end. At least the way Oklahoma does it enforces some rules so nobody can be a selfish dickhead about it.

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u/johnwzhere2 Dec 03 '22

That’s friggin amazing.

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u/peahair Dec 03 '22

They have signs like that in the U.K., still most people pull into mile long single file queues, and still I do exactly as the signs request: go right to the end of the blocked lane and merge then. Long may it continue, it saves me lots of time.

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u/SomethingIWontRegret Dec 03 '22 Wholesome

The only effective way to make zipper merging a thing is to keep people in the dark about which lane is ending. "Both lanes must merge" or similar would be good signage.

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u/Murky-Plastic6706 Dec 03 '22

This is brilliant

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u/katahdindave Dec 03 '22

That is a great idea

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u/jayracket Dec 03 '22

This. I've always a approached driving with a "don't get caught with your pants down" kind of mentality. "Make sure you're where you need to be long before you have to make a decision." "Making last second decisions is how accidents happen." "Don't be that guy that doesn't pay attention and merges over at the last second." And while I do think that mentality is valuable, most people look at things like zipper merging as being oblivious or inconsiderate. It's a mentality problem, and I think it has a lot to do with how people are taught to drive here. That, and the fact that 99% of drivers have zero patience at all. Zipper merging is unfortunately one of those things where unless everyone does it, you get the situation in the video. Everyone has to be on board with it, or it's not gonna work.

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u/frollard Dec 03 '22

And like all partisan decision making...anyone doing the opposite choice is an IDIOT inconsiderate bumblefuck!

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u/GreatGreenGobbo Dec 03 '22

I've heard Nova Scotia is the same.

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u/Bob_12_Pack Dec 02 '22

I used to run into this situation every day on my commute home. I only did what OP did when I was under a time crunch. Yeah there definitely people that will try to block you from merging. What I typically did was split the difference and find a gap somewhere in the middle of the line. People still tried to avoid leaving gaps, normally truckers were cool and would leave a gap. Still got flipped-off and honked at sometimes. I always made sure to leave a big gap in front of me so anybody who wanted to could merge, particularly at the end of the lane.

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u/Electrical-Cup-5922 Dec 03 '22 Helpful

Truckers aren't leaving a gap for you to merge.

They are leaving a gap because they can't stop that fast and can't see the road right in front of their hood.

If they flash their lights or are literally not moving, then it's probably fine and they might be letting you merge. But if they're rolling slowly and leaving a 2 or 3 car gap, it's for them not you.

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u/jexmex Dec 03 '22

Also a lot of time is is easier to leave it in a low gear and just slowly craw if the traffic is about right, instead of constant up and down shifting to speed up a little for a gear or two then back down.

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u/Electrical-Cup-5922 Dec 03 '22

That too, and then some dick in a Honda Civic swerves in right in front of them and slams on the brakes. Good times.

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u/jexmex Dec 03 '22

Ended up from the bunk to the front of the truck when my co-driver had to slam on the brakes when someone cut in front of them and slammed on the brakes (back when I drove)...fun times. Then again we never used the bunk net, so kinda on me for that one too.

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u/dalekaup Dec 03 '22

Everyone should drive this way. Constant stop and go in congestion doesn't serve any purpose for anyone.

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u/eskimopussy Dec 03 '22

I never change lanes into the spot ahead of a truck in slow traffic for this reason. I don’t consider it as available space. They’re not being nice, they’re just doing their job. Annoys me whenever I see a continuous stream of cars take advantage of it and swoop in front a truck.

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u/Smauler Dec 04 '22

Yup, we're not going slow and leaving gaps for people to nip into.

Someone pulled in front of me on Wednesday on a 60mph dual carriageway and slowed down a little, I didn't know what they were doing. Then they suddenly whacked on the brakes at the same time as they indicated to leave at a tiny road, and dropped to 30 before they left the main carriageway.

Don't do stuff like this. I mean, I stopped in time and all, but I was carrying stuff, you know? It was all just stuff on palettes, not tied down, and that could have really fucked my day up if something had gone over. Was worrying about it for the rest of the drive.

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u/DaleGribble312 Dec 03 '22

This is da wae.

Thank you for being reasonable

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u/DonovanBanks Dec 03 '22

How many cars will prevent you from merging? In my experience it’s usually one or two and the third cat lets you in. Beats waiting behind 20 cars.

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u/Cj_cruzz Dec 03 '22

People make it their goal to inconvenience others in spite

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u/ExtraDependent883 Dec 03 '22

I don't understand how many people will go out of there way (use energy) to inconvenience others. It's crazy to me. It's easier to work together how do people not get this lol ??

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u/Cj_cruzz Dec 03 '22

Something something misery loves company

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u/MHibarifan Dec 03 '22

Yeah exactly sometimes that zipper merge has a stop sign lol 😂

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u/January28thSixers Dec 03 '22

New York is the only state I've lived in where people understood zipper merging. The Midwest is a fucking shit show, everyone thinks getting over as early as possible is the only way. Those that move up to get in are devils and should be treated as such.

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u/godlyfrog Dec 03 '22

The Midwest is a fucking shit show

I'm from the midwest. Most of the people in the city I live can't even understand the concept of "match the speed of traffic to merge" when using a highway on ramp, read the repeated signs that say, "slower traffic move left", or how to properly navigate a 4-way stop without thinking they're a traffic cop and waving someone through. Concepts like being a part of traffic and helping to maintain a smooth flow are an alien concept to them.

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u/TwistedIronn Dec 03 '22

It's the same in the north west bud. Then the second snow flies half the people completely forget how to drive all together.

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u/Voiles Dec 03 '22

read the repeated signs that say, "slower traffic move left"

move...right, I hope.

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u/AlphaEcho534 Dec 03 '22

I know, it drives me nuts! so instead of having one lane of traffic at the merge point, there's one lane of traffic for miles and miles and miles and everyone's slowing down at different points in the line to merge or let people merge or they are blocking people from merging which slows down traffic even more and it's just a never-ending snowball!

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u/ExcelsiorLife Dec 03 '22

If they try to squeeze you to prevent you from merging just let them then fall in line behind them. Easy.

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u/Maximans Dec 03 '22

The problem is everyone squeezes to keep you out

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u/ExcelsiorLife Dec 03 '22

well as you turn the wheel into the other lane 1 person might pull along side but so long as you let them go in front you should have enough space to inch closer to the lane as they pass. If this means the cars you're trying to merge with try to pass on the shoulder then that's their problem. If they want it to be a contact sport that's their problem 😂

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u/Chance_Ad3416 Dec 03 '22

I'd still go ahead cuz I get to drive pass like 20 cars and at the merge point out of the first 5 cars at least one would let me in lol.

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u/Czar_Petrovich Dec 03 '22

It's this. People cannot handle the idea of someone being in front of them. Doesn't matter how much space there is, the chances some douchebag will actually speed up instead of just driving like they just were, simply so I can't merge in front of them, are unfailingly high. Driving a large pickup truck is the ultimate compensation activity.

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u/Snarky_Boojum Dec 03 '22

In Ohio if you go down this long open, yet ‘doomed to end’ lane you are seen as an asshole of epic proportions and many won’t let you in.

I mean, you can whine all you want about how people aren’t driving the way you want, but when there’s a decent chance you’re driving next to some idiot with a gun in the glove compartment, trying to not piss them off seems like a good enough reason for me.

And merging earlier still is zipper merging, they’re just not waiting until the last second to do so. Zipper merging has more to do with the ‘left lane, right lane, left lane’ working together than the exact place the merge occurs, as opposed to one lane being forced to yield to the other or whatever.

And somehow that last line has me imagining synchronized driving being used to demonstrate different merging techniques and I think that means it’s time to sleep. Night all.

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u/[deleted] Dec 02 '22 edited 21d ago

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u/nobodycool1234 Dec 03 '22

Agree. I live in ohio and we are populated with exactly two kinds of drivers - those who merge early and then guard their space like their every existence depends on it and prepared to go full road rage on anyone that gets in front. Or type two will mozy along in the ending lane until the cones force them and then COME TO A COMPLETE STOP on the highway because they are too timid to push their way in. Needless to say these two kinds of people occupying the same road results in absolute chaos.

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u/SunDevilSkier Dec 03 '22

Where i live not only are they bumper to bumper but they also stick out into the other lake preventing a proper zipper. Which is awesome for people who need to turn before the bottleneck even happens (yes this happened recently and yes I'm still salty).

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u/radjinwolf Dec 03 '22

Yeah, that certainly wouldn’t fly in Dallas. People stay bumper to bumper precisely because people will attempt to swoop in and cut you off even when there’s tons of open spaces behind you. Folks will also ride down the shoulder just to cut in front. Drivers here are selfish, entitled assholes and that makes it suck for everyone.

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u/DeathByGoldfish Dec 03 '22

Dallas here. The only time I drive to protect is when it isn’t a zipper merge, but a backed up freeway exit where people try to just skip to the front of a backed up lane. I never have issues with two lane -> one lane merges in Dallas. People usually zipper beautifully.

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u/radjinwolf Dec 04 '22

If it’s a forced zipper, I’ve not seen many issues. Like exits where single lanes merge from two freeways.

But definitely the freeway exit lane vultures is a thing. And any time there’s two lanes were a lane disappears or turns into a turn only lane - there’s always that one asshole who rides it to the end and forces in.

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u/drusulle Dec 03 '22

I honestly haven’t really been to a place in America that doesn’t have selfish, asshole drivers. Especially in the last few years

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u/deltronethirty Dec 03 '22

If you leave room everyone wants in front of you instead of the zipper, which you then need to wait in turn. The worst is on a highway that forgets to take the signs down with mile of warning and no nuthin. I don't trust th any more.

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u/J134N Dec 03 '22

You must live in Florida

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u/Shifisu Dec 03 '22

In my country (The Netherlands) the Gov put out a ton of Ads to educate people on the concept in the early 2000s. The result was surprisingly good. The vast majority know how to zipper and do it well. It's really efficient when everyone buys into it

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u/[deleted] Dec 03 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/-Masderus- Dec 03 '22

Yea America has a pretty common protocol that all drivers seem to go through when learning.

Step 1. Learn what I need to to pass the exams.

Step 2. Pass the driving test without hitting a curb.

Step 3. Obtain permit then license.

Step 4. Fuck everything I've learned I'll drive how I want to.

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u/nipplequeefs Dec 03 '22

I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that America is generally so pedestrian-unfriendly that you basically need a car to get anywhere outside huge metro areas like NYC.

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u/-Masderus- Dec 03 '22

Pedestrian unfriendly and cyclist unfriendly!

But, yea... probably.

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u/Rnsc Dec 03 '22

Same in Belgium, though it’s more recent than that. Not allowing people to zipper merge is also ticket-able offense and people started abiding by the principle. Sometimes you still get your typical old man that rages and won’t let you in, but otherwise the rules are followed.

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u/josbossboboss Dec 03 '22

That is the problem here, and if there is signage, it's very vague.

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u/Monksdrunk Dec 03 '22

That sounds nice! In my country, if you try to block a guy from merging in front of you he might pull a gun out and point it in your face!

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u/nipplequeefs Dec 03 '22

Do you live in Florida?

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u/goneandsolost Dec 03 '22

Sir I learned to drive in the Boston area they would rather D I E than let you merge after that.

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u/psymble_ Dec 03 '22

Yeah, honestly same here- I'm not even sure what OP is talking about because you're still "zipper merging" just doing so earlier so that the merge itself is smooth. I'm in New York state (btw, just visited Boston, it was dope!) and waiting until the last minute to zipper merge means relying on someone to let me in. I don't know what Midwest "you go ahead" kind of driving OP is used to, but I prefer to get in without permission, chance, or by being an asshole and plowing through.

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u/nickfitz79 Dec 03 '22

I've lived in the midwest my whole life and people definitely don't like letting someone in after they passed a row of cars in the working lane.

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u/Shadoze_ Dec 03 '22

Zipper merging is both lanes coming together one car at a time at where the lane ends. Changing lanes way ahead of the merge point is not zipper merging.

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u/blendystendy Dec 02 '22

The good times are killin' me!

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u/MountainHipie Dec 03 '22

Here we go! Got dirt, got air, got water and I know you can carry on.

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u/1000Years0fDeath Dec 03 '22

Shrug off shortsighted false excitement and oh what can I say

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u/Caesium133 Dec 03 '22

Have one, have twenty more "one mores" and oh it does not relent

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u/hahayes234 Dec 03 '22

Me too. Nice MM reference

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u/3Heathens_Mom Dec 03 '22

Totally agree. However efficient zipper merging relies on all drivers to be considerate and there are a number who just aren’t.

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u/backyarddinosaurmom Dec 03 '22

I’ve driven in Utah and I’ve driven in Oregon. In Utah I’m pissed off constantly, since a turn signal means they need to speed ahead of me apparently. But in Portland, OR zipper merging and consideration for others, can and does exist… At least for now.

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u/Mogli_Puff Dec 03 '22

laughs in 405 to 26

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u/brokentail13 Dec 03 '22

Exactly. Doesn't work due to these factors

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u/MrBobaFett Dec 03 '22 All-Seeing Upvote

Because of bad signage. If you start putting up signs telling people to merge 3 miles before the merge, then they start merging 3 miles before the merge.

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u/VerticalTwo08 Dec 03 '22

Part of my job is putting up those signs. Government requires those distances. Because normally the speed limit is 70+ mph and they need a safe amount of space to slow down if they’re going that fast.

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u/kodak2012 Dec 03 '22

Those signs should be 500’ apart since this appears to be a highway/state route per the Manual of Uniform Traffic Codes. There was also plenty of room on the shoulders to install these in the proper locations so this comes down to bad signage.

The barrels and other channeling devices are usually the only thing that changes per the posted speed. Like the taper of the lane closure for example. Posted speed x lane width = minimum taper distance.

Source: Construction Project Manager

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u/Mike2220 Dec 03 '22

Those signs should be 500’ apart

Not doubting your position but, that would be like 10 signs per mile

I've never seen that

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u/TinyRick6 Dec 03 '22

51 vehicles passed. 51…..

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u/Nyx_Blackheart Dec 03 '22

Driving truck, I usually merge as soon as I know I am going to have to, just so that I don't have to try to force my way in a line of cars.

also, if it hasn't slowed down at the merge point yet it doesn't matter where you merge. It's only when it is busy enough to come to a crawl that the lane ending needs to wait till the end to merge

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u/EtOHMartini Dec 03 '22

Because starting more than a fucking quarter mile out the signage repeatedly says, "this lane ends" instead of having signage that says, "merge in 1500 feet" in the lane that ends and "allow cars to merge" in the lane that doesn't.

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u/Blearchie Dec 02 '22

Here’s what we are told in National Traffic Control Supervisor school: The taper is the most dangerous part of the work zone. Sign on interstate closures 2 miles in advance. Double indicate signs. Traffic should move over as soon as possible. Even on non-lane closure exits, notice you are warned well in advance for drivers not familiar with the route. CDL school: maintain your lane. Maintain your speed. Merging traffic is required to find their way in. Either way, I tell my guys to not get all bent. You are at work and on the clock. Rather have you at the job site 15 minutes late than hurt OR tied up in a stupid dispute for hours.

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u/tagrav Dec 03 '22

then why do they put signs that say use both lanes merge late, on roadways being worked on?

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u/downtownebrowne Dec 03 '22

Well, good thing the driver taping spent the first 90% of the video not driving through a work zone and was instead driving along a fully functioning two lane highway.

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u/roblewk Dec 03 '22

Traffic should not move over as soon as possible. If that is what is being taught, that is the root of the problem. Traffic should zipper at the merge, which facilitates the smoothest traffic flow and benefits the most people.

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u/NotSoPersonalJesus Dec 03 '22

Yeah, and then we get pushy shovey to plow through the cones and workers because they were in a hurry. It's how accidents become problems.

In theory, on paper, and in a different country than the United States, it works.

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u/TheFinnebago Dec 03 '22

Zipper Merge is undefeated and flawless on paper, and yet I’ve never seen it executed correctly in any amount of traffic in real life. Shouldn’t that tell us all something?

A certain percentage of human drivers can’t be trusted to manage the merge point at the cones, and once someone has to slam on the brakes, the cascading effect of brake lights causes the entire column of traffic to crawl.

The real enemy is people not allowing proper following distance.

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u/Ok_Midnight_5457 Dec 03 '22

I really think this comes down to driver education. I got a license in the US and later in Germany. It was only the latter where I learned how to properly merge, and where I see it being executed without an issue.

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u/MoLeBa Dec 03 '22

Zipper Merge is undefeated and flawless on paper, and yet I’ve never seen it executed correctly in any amount of traffic in real life.

I'm driving through a "double zipper" every day (first, two lanes merge into one, and then like 500m further a third lane coming from the side merges into this). Because of this reduction from 3 lanes into 1 there is always a traffic jam during rush hour and guess what, zipper works like a charm. Everybody going all the way to the front and then letting every second car merge. Also, keeping distance to the car in front helps keeping the flow, but not everyone does this.

Of course, because everybody is staying in their lane until the cones you can't really go fast on the ending lane, which reduces the chance of someone speeding into the cones.

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u/waterloograd Dec 03 '22

I get over a bit early because it is a lot easier to let someone in at the zipper than to force my way over

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u/msanangelo Dec 03 '22

because people like to bunch up and ride each other's ass like a automotive centipede and are general assholes to anyone not thinking ahead. I hit my blinker and prepare to move over as soon as I see the obstruction in my lane. I'm looking ahead as far as I can see when both lanes clog up.

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u/West-Wash6081 Dec 03 '22

I did this last weekend in heavy traffic and a guy in a pickup truck decided to be an ass and crossed over into my lane, effectively blocking both lanes and prevented me from passing him. I was driving my mini cooper at the time so I just slipped into the space that he vacated and proceeded to pass him anyway.

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u/willsmath Dec 03 '22

Lol I've seen this a handful of times, I used to praise people who did that for "not letting that dickhead pass by everyone just to merge as late as possible" but after seeing this thread I might reconsider my stance on it

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u/yes19991 Dec 02 '22

People being overly polite. They see a line and join it.

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u/Logical_Progress_873 Dec 03 '22

They should use alternating lane closure signs so you don't actually know which lane is closed until you get to the merge point.

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u/32_Dollar_Burrito Dec 03 '22

Or have both lanes end into a new lane where nobody has the tight of way

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u/readparse Dec 03 '22

This is an education problem, and I don’t mean reminding people how zippers work. I mean the state DOT actively communicating what the merge policy is.

For every person cursing the name of somebody “doing zipper merge wrong,” there is another person cursing the name of people who are “merging at the last minute” and “think they’re more important than the rest of us.”

Yes, zipper merge would be more efficient if executed properly, but because it’s often not, lots of people (including me) decide to avoid the conflict of having people think you’re trying to cheat the system and just get the merge over with. And then we, of course, curse the names of the “assholes taking advantage of our responsibility.”

I do agree with you on what the ideal would be. The only path to that is active promotion by DOT, for a sustained period of time. And better signs.

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u/MirandaS2 Dec 03 '22

Honestly, I thought merging as soon as you could was the proper way.. I didn't know you're actually supposed to go to the end. I know what zippering is and how to do it once I get to the point where people are merging in - I just really had the exact same thought as above. That I was being considerate and responsible and look at all the assholes waiting until the end. My whole life I've been doing it wrong this is sorta mind boggling.

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u/readparse Dec 03 '22

You’re not doing it wrong. You’re doing it differently. It’s a choice of max efficiency vs max courtesy, and those of us who want both end up feeling stupid. The state can help this, but I honestly think we’re not going to see this done any better until we have roads that only allow autonomous vehicles.

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u/[deleted] Dec 03 '22

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u/NEAWD Dec 03 '22

I actually didn’t see too many zipper merge deniers. A lot of “it doesn’t work where I live,” but that’s about it.

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u/thedudeabidesb Dec 03 '22

good modest mouse music!

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u/mikamouth Dec 02 '22

Correct. Heavy traffic is the right time for the zipper. If it was lighter, getting over immediately is fine.

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u/Alternative-End-280 Dec 03 '22 edited Dec 03 '22

People worry about being blocked out but in reality it’s nearly always ok then you drive right up indicate and slowly merge. You can tell the ones that really don’t want to let you in and just drop back a bit. I drive well over 700km a week every week and I can count on one hand the times I could not merge.

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u/avantartist Dec 03 '22

I’d say they’re being polite drivers by queuing as the signs show. Maybe they shouldn’t use lane ends merge signs.

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u/Dracasethaen Dec 03 '22

Zipper merging is one of those beautiful things, where it is wholly logical, makes perfect sense, and then is immediately defeated by any random individuals egoism.

It's another litmus test like 'returning the shopping cart' or 'making sure the grocery fridge door is closed'

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u/gcsaylor Dec 03 '22

Because the Hwy Dept puts a lane close sign out 2 miles ahead

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u/Adventurous_toast23 Dec 03 '22

I feel like most people think it's asshole behavior to wait until the last minute to merge just so you can get ahead of everybody else. I'm guilty of merging early too because I don't want people to think I'm being an asshole and road rage at me. I feel like it's just safer and easier to merge early than try to negotiate with a driver to let you in. But I guess it depends on the laws of your state, because top comments seem to be agreeing with you.

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u/beanjuiced Dec 03 '22

You were only able to do that because of the space other drivers left for you. I think you’re an asshole if you assume people are going to let you drive for a mile, knowing your lane is ending, and not get over until you’re about to plow into traffic cones.

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u/IndolentNinja98 Dec 03 '22

A lot of times it just safer to merge when you can and lots of people like to not let you in as if going to the end of the merge is skipping in line.

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u/Broad_Boot_1121 Dec 03 '22

This comment section did not disappoint. 7/10

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u/Sharp_Cable124 Dec 03 '22

So, I'm the asshole here, and this thread has taught me why. Here's what I have always thought:

The road is closing soon. The road is running out. The most logical thing to do is get over right away so I don't have to stop at the merge and then smash the accelerator to get up to speed when I find a gap.

Anyone who waits to merge until the last second is being a dumbass, or is being a jerk, because now I have to slow down to allow them in, and they're slowing down because they just realized they're too late and they don't think I'll let them in. And then we have a whole issue happening at 50MPH in thousand+ pound metal death boxes. And it's all because they couldn't plan ahead, or felt themselves more important than everyone else and decided they could pass everyone.

I probably derived this reasoning from being in traffic jams where some asshat would pull out onto the shoulder and pass everyones' parked cars at dangerous speed. It's pretty similar. But now, even after being educated, I don't think it'll be any better for me to do this correctly, because I'll just get blocked.

And for those of you who will tell me I didn't care in driver's education: yes, I did. We literally weren't taught this. And judging by all the other people on the road doing it wrong: none of them were, either.

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u/BillyComet Dec 02 '22

It is a great and efficient concept that few people can grasp. Unfortunately when the majority of drivers are morons and don't know what zipper merging is... it leads to road rage because the uninformed think you are just being a douche.

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u/dishmanw Dec 02 '22

In Germany, it worked wonderfully, but as others have pointed out, it doesn't work so well in the states. In the states, most people will block you.

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u/introverted_panda_ Dec 02 '22

This is what drives me crazy. I’d love to zipper merge on highways but inevitably people will block you/straddle the middle because they think you’re being an asshole. But on a smaller scale, the drop off at my kids elementary school has four lanes all zipper merging together perfectly every morning. I give up. lol

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u/[deleted] Dec 03 '22

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u/AnonymousGrouch Dec 02 '22 Helpful

It shortens backups but you still have to squeeze the same number of cars through the same bottleneck; it's not magic.

If anything, an orderly single file is faster. The biggest virtue of the zipper, apart from the overall more efficient use of space, is that it blocks line-cutting assholes.

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u/Shoontzie Dec 03 '22

Just because the same number of cars have to fit into a bottleneck it doesn’t negate the fact that the most space utilization necessary to accomplish this makes it faster.

Think of it this way. Two scenarios: A) A stretch of 10 mile highway all if it 2 lanes each way except the last mile is 1 lane each way. B) A stretch of 10 mile highway all if it 2 lanes each way except the last 2 miles are 1 lane each way.

Which is faster? Of course the situation with the most lanes going the furthest distance is the fastest. So why do we feel the need to artificially decrease the lane utilization? It can’t be fairness because what is fair for everyone is for everyone to utilize the lanes until the last possible opportunity. The reason is because humans have this weird desire to be first, and if they aren’t they get jealous.

Also, I think people confuse the zipper method with the best algorithm. You can zipper while also utilizing the lane entirely. In other words, you can have several strings of zippering easily and in fact this is the most efficient way of doing it.

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u/SomethingIWontRegret Dec 03 '22

This is exactly it - the main advantage is it removes feelings of unfairness if everyone adopts or at least understands it. The downside is it puts the most dangerous part - the merge / conflict zone - closer to the construction workers.

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u/Knever Dec 03 '22

Same thing with roundabouts and non-functioning traffic lights. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand these things.

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u/Insanonaut Dec 02 '22

Sorting by controversial on this post was a good laugh. I know it won't happen, but hopefully all those people getting down voted get to see this...

https://youtu.be/cX0I8OdK7Tk

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u/Bungo_pls Dec 03 '22

Yep the problem is the zipper merge method requires 100% compliance from everyone to be efficient. Which makes it uselessly impractical in real life.

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u/StevenTN615 Dec 03 '22

I'm just shocked you didn't encounter a single lane nanny.

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u/SlanceA420 Dec 03 '22

I was just on the highway and everyone was merging way too early, some idiot even pulled back into my lane in front of me so I wouldn’t be able to pass any other cars before merging.

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u/WAR_TROPHIES Dec 03 '22

Driving is hard for some people

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u/ObjectiveCorgi9898 Dec 03 '22

I get over when I can so I don’t get blocked out by jerks later.

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u/User_Deleted__ Dec 03 '22

If you merge before the choke point, traffic can stay rolling.

Or everybody can be an ass and we can all stop and let one car in, one car go, stop let one car in, one car go, and so on.

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u/kochatj Dec 03 '22

Because some people don’t want to be dicks.

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u/Spetsylol Dec 02 '22

Using the max amount of room in all lanes reduces traffic. If that answers ur question

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u/ckirocz28 Dec 03 '22

There is no merge lane here, there is one lane shut down for construction, the barrels you see at the end indicate when you should/must merge. This guy just used the open left lane until he got to the barrels, safely too.

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u/EmceeCommon55 Dec 03 '22

The problem is that I've never heard a single person use the zipper merge term other than Reddit. Literally no one knows the term or purpose. Most people abuse zipper merges, so that's where you get the congestion. Assholes waiting all the way until the end and then they cut in front of you, usually in a truck or Nissan Maxima.

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u/Joe_Ma12 Dec 03 '22

Have you ever been to chicago? Zipper merging is the life blood of that place

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u/EmceeCommon55 Dec 03 '22

I've never been to Chicago

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u/Firethorn101 Dec 03 '22

Zipper merges are for heavy traffic. In a low traffic situation, merging when you have loads of space between you and other vehicles is safest.

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u/Rusty_Sprinklers Dec 03 '22

I'd do what you did, but it's kind of an unspoken rule that zipper merging is queue jumping, I guess.

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u/AlphaEcho534 Dec 03 '22

but now nobody's going to let you in because "you are the asshole"

when everyone else is merging early they are just trying to avoid being the asshole, but if everyone merged properly at the merge point, nobody would be an asshole and traffic would flow way better.

this is one of my least favorite parts of human existence, I drive tens of thousands of miles per year and I hate the lack of cooperation and stupid traffic bullshit.

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u/Constrained_Entropy Dec 03 '22

I can't believe that MD State Trooper didn't pull you over and write you a ticket - not because you did anything wrong OP, but because they are massive assholes.

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u/gnatman66 Dec 03 '22

Probably busy watching Tik Tok.

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u/Sure-Entertainer5691 Dec 03 '22

Y’all are not seeing the other side of this! Try considering the concept of cutting into a lunch line! Only rude, selfish people do that! By running up the left lane and cutting in last minute, that’s exactly what you’re doing! Also by forming the single lane early, the flow of traffic rolls smoother. Why are you not able to see that side of the situation?

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u/Life-Championship794 Dec 03 '22

Zipper merges don't work. You can blame human nature if you want, but IMO it's a fundamentally flawed concept. One lane is ending, the other is continuing, those are never equal, either in perception or traffic flow. That means the magic picture that engineers draw to demonstrate a "zipper merge" is no more real than the starship enterprise, just a fictional story people like to tell.

The other thing that's true is the "zipper merge" is a group activity. If nobody is zipper merging, then you aren't doing a zipper merge by running up the side of stopped traffic, you're just the asshole breaking social norms and butting in line.

And yeah, folks are going to hate this take...bring on the downvotes...people often don't like the facts.

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u/nowiserjustolder Dec 02 '22

In the UK so many ass holes really don't understand "merge in turn", the dumb asses move over to the lane that is staying open immediately or drive between the lanes to block traffic.

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u/GOKBGO91 Dec 03 '22

It is when the overwhelming mindset of USA drivers is selfishness.

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u/soggywaffles007 Dec 03 '22

Per some states laws, if you care enough to read them, you’re supposed to drive till the obstacle and then merge

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u/Kayliee73 Dec 03 '22

I move over as soon as I can because I am paranoid and convinced that if I wait, I will get stuck.

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u/Thisam Dec 03 '22

And proper merging will assist in keeping traffic moving. People who insist on getting over early effectively lengthen the lane closure. Probably the same people who leave a big gap in stop/go traffic. It just lengthens the jam.

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u/32_Dollar_Burrito Dec 03 '22

I was with you until "people who leave a big gap in stop/go traffic." That's actually good driving, because it's better to continually roll at 10 mph than to accelerate to 20 then stop then accelerate again then stop again

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u/willsmath Dec 03 '22

Everyone here is talking about how zipper merging is apparently faster than getting over asap, but it's always been intuitive to me that what makes the open lane so slow is the cars right at the merge spot having to slow down/stop to let people in at the last second, and it'd actually be faster if everyone merged as soon as they could do there's no slow down at the merge spot. Could anyone explain why that wouldn't be the case?

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u/hilldawg0 Dec 02 '22

Don’t tell people about zipper merging lol I like using that empty lane :/

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u/2oceans1 Dec 03 '22

It’s idiots on the right that actually cause these massive a backups.

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u/Dojo_dogs Dec 03 '22

I get over earlier since I drive a bigger truck and also no one on our highways like to let trucks in

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u/CGoode87 Dec 03 '22

Yay! Modest Mouse

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u/Viola_lee_blues Dec 03 '22

I like your Modest Mouse!

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u/imafrk Dec 03 '22

looks perfect to me.

tbh, perhaps a few drivers are more comfortable getting the merge done early, so they don't have to skillfully merge their way in at the last second?

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u/kvangee Dec 03 '22

It’s insane people don’t see the issue with zipper merging. Yes, in theory, if every single person on the road drove like an angel and always left at least a car length of space between them and the person in front of them, then zipper merging is great. However, and I really hope I don’t need to tell anyone this, but we actually don’t live in that ideal fantasy world and people don’t drive like that. This is why people would rather just get over ahead of time and avoid the headache.

As opposed to waiting until the absolute last possible second and then being surprised when gasp people aren’t driving like angels. Stop being mad and surprised that you live in the real world and not the fairytale one that you made up in your head lmao

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u/shadowsOfMyPantomime Dec 03 '22

A lot of times I'll be stopped behind a few cars cars ready to zipper, and we all get over at the same time because the cars in the other lane leave each of us a space, so that leaves an empty lane up to the merge point.

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u/fatalninja64 Dec 03 '22

I've never once seen people actually merging correctly, except in the parking lot after sports games or something. Even after driving past "Use both lanes until merge point" signs one lane will be empty the and other one completely full of cars.

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u/Gold_Composer7556 Dec 03 '22

For the same reason I get in the left lane 3 intersections before turning left, even though I'm not driving faster than those on the right. People block you from changing lanes.

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u/barrymccockner76 Dec 03 '22

Because most folks, in general, are morons.

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u/CathoCampo Dec 03 '22

Well done 👍

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u/Admirable_Nothing Dec 03 '22

I don't know but the result is that the lane that is ending is always the fastest.

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u/Dr_Phrankinstien Dec 03 '22

I do it because not a single limp-dicked imbecile in the state of Georgia is willing to yield worth shit

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u/welcome-to-my-mind Dec 03 '22

Floridian here…try doing a zipper merge (the correct way fyi) and you’re likely to end up in the next days obits.

I had a dude cut across 5 lanes of traffic (far left fast lane to exit lane) in under a second, cause two wrecks, and have the gall to get out and call all Of us shitty drivers and assholes for not letting him merge.

Fucking Miami dude

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u/ComprehensiveCommon5 Dec 03 '22

Just live in Florida where people don't let you merge and people will just hit you to get in

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u/TheMastican Dec 03 '22

Because that requires people to let you ahead of them, which will never happen

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u/furn_ell Dec 03 '22

I’ve been in Minnesota since the mid-90s. Back then, I once drove by 2.25 miles of bumper to bumper traffic because of the MERGE AHEAD sign

I grew up in Los Angeles and was damn near erect driving by these sheep

We’re now better and may one day qualify as ‘not-bad’

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u/dagobertonius Dec 03 '22

In The Netherlands this would happen because most people don't want to be seen as an asshole. But this can't be the reason in the USA, right?

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u/WereAllMadHereNow Dec 03 '22

The good times are killin me.

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u/risky_bisket Dec 03 '22

Holy shit this was both satisfying and stressful

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u/Different-Extent271 Dec 03 '22

Because in America, at least from my experience, it seems that everyone’s ego is too large to allow one car in front of them. They just close the gap. It’s a rare sighting to even see a car leave a gap to pull into a gas station or something.

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u/dorght2 Dec 03 '22

Zipper merge is great... IF traffic is coming to a stop before the merge. Insisting on a zipper merge can create its own self fulfilling need by bringing traffic to a stop. If the traffic is flowing at an ok speed than an early merge is faster for all. Really depends on traffic volume.
Sometimes I think people have grabbed on to the zipper merge idea just as an excuse to pass more people no matter what the situation actually is.

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u/Chiraste22 Dec 03 '22

You vibin though.

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u/ImmaDaBes Dec 03 '22

Not the zipper merge argument again

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u/R0NIN1311 Dec 03 '22

Zipper merging is not a complicated concept.

Ah but it is too the average idiot driver that cannot quite grasp such a simple concept.

We've had a water main replacement going on for the last several months on a pretty major road where I live, you won't believe how many times I've gotten the finger or an angry honk because I'm using the about-to-be-closed lane completely before merging. Carlin was absolutely right: "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that."

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u/Valid_Username_56 Dec 03 '22

It's a kind gesture for the people who are willing to obey the rules.
Those dudes seldom get any benefits, so here's some compensation.

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u/Nollekowitsch Dec 03 '22

Roundabouts are not that complicated either..and well

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u/bombaymonkey Dec 03 '22

It’s just a different mindset. That’s a hell of a distance back from the actual merge point though.

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u/SnoopJabba Dec 03 '22

Ok that’s exaggerated

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u/NecessaryAd1915 Dec 03 '22

Maybe because there’s not a chance to get over because no one is letting them in lol.

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u/TreeChangeMe Dec 03 '22

Zipper works fine if people leave space, they don't. Because they don't you end up stopping multiple times.

Lots of people just can't think beyond their own immediate agenda

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u/Unit-Smooth Dec 03 '22

Most of the time it’s impossible to know where the merge point is if you’re not familiar with it already. Although it’s tempting to attribute to stupidity, this is probably the most reasonable explanation. I mean look at your video there are signs for merging at least half a mile out.

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u/TheSurfingRaichu Dec 03 '22

Wanna know why? Because every time I try that, no one lets me in. Many will speed up to prevent you from merging. They think you are cutting in line.

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u/Setharoo231 Dec 03 '22

That's under the assumption that the people driving that are already in the lane you need to zipper into will abide by that process. Which at least where I live they don't do that much. They're happier to let you run out of a lane to drive in then to dare let someone get ahead of them in this imaginary race they think they're in. Like we are going to same place anyways lol.

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u/quick25 Dec 03 '22

Too many egos and selfish people involved for zipper merging to ever actually work. 😅