I had no idea.

When I'm driving and see a sign that one lane is ending, I move out of that lane as soon as possible. I want plenty of time to make the merge and then not have to worry about it anymore—except for dealing with those obnoxious drivers who speed down the emptying lane and try to horn in at the last minute. Those people are so rude!

But they're right, and I'm wrong.

Apparently the technique of using all lanes until the very end, called a zipper merge, is considered the safest and best way to deal with the lane reduction problem.

 

They didn't teach the zipper merge back when I took driver's ed, but I can see that it makes some sense. Unfortunately, it has one big drawback: It requires turn-taking courtesy on the part of all drivers. I can imagine it working in Switzerland, or Japan. But in America?  I have my doubts. Zippers are great; broken zippers are nasty.

Next time I'm in a situation of heavy traffic—which is where the zipper technique is considered most important—I may or may not have the courage to try it out. But at least I'll be more patient with the drivers who remain in the closing lane.

Unless they start using the shoulder. Then I'll allow myself to be annoyed.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Edit
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I had heard this recently, too. But, I think you are right that in the US, it may not work. Even pulling on to a congested highway, I have had people refuse to let me in. Are you kidding me?

Sarah



Posted by dstb on Friday, September 30, 2016 at 5:03 am

I have found that it usually works, particularly if there are a bunch of people doing it, rather than just one or two speeding down.

Every once in a while I find someone who doesn't follow the every other rule when slow traffic is merging together.

It is more common that I find high sites merges coming onto the highway that don't even look in the mirror and just expect that I'll slow down for them.

The thing I think would never work in the US that does work in Japan is elevator optimization, that throughput can be much higher if people don't take the first elevator available, but let the elevator organize people into groups going to similar floors.



Posted by Jon Daley on Wednesday, October 05, 2016 at 4:36 pm
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