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Driving Tips: The Zipper Merge

Driving Tips: The Zipper Merge

by Bob Poliquin, Managing Editor ~

Local Facebook sites, like ours in Indian Land, regularly host a thread on driving. We all have our peeves. My personal peeve is directionals. Whether it’s changing lanes or making a turn – use your turn signal, people. And for my friends and neighbors in Sun City, if you use your turn signal, whether it be in your car of golf cart, please turn them off after the turn.

Here at Charlotte Seniors we are doing a series on a few of the common driving peeves in our community. Let’s see if the law speaks to these peeves or if we need to figure out the rules of the road ourselves.

Merging into a single lane for a lane closed ahead: We have lots of construction going on here in IL, so seeing a sign that says right (or left) lane closed ahead is common. So, when do you merge?

  1. Merge immediately when you see the sign?
  2. Merge at the merge point?

I’m going way back to driver’s education in high school where I was taught to zipper merge, which means use all available lanes until the merge point and then zipper. It’s hard to communicate the hostility and threats to “swap paint” or “run them into the cones” by drivers who think those using the closed lane until the merge point are taking advantage of the drivers who are “waiting their turn in line.” The problem we zipper merge people have with those who insist on queuing up is that traffic gets backed up for multiple intersections when there is a lane available and open. The law doesn’t speak to this issue, but folks have road rage opinions about how it should be. If nothing else, let’s be calm and not vigilantes behind the wheel.

Back to directionals – My wife’s theory is that the more expensive the car, the less likely the driver will use a turn signal. I’m astonished at how often that seems to be the case. And my theory is you can tell a good cop from a bad cop by his/her use of turn signals. C’mon, Officers, be good role models for us on the road.

Next: Traffic light malfunctions! We all know what we are supposed to do, so why don’t we do it?