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How does the zipper merge work?

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2023 | Car Accidents

On the interstate, drivers will often encounter road construction zones where one lane has been shut down. Cars may also have to merge for things like accidents or emergency vehicles.

What often happens is the drivers will start merging into the right lane if the left lane is closed. As more vehicles approach the slowdown in traffic, they will start merging in at the back of the line.

But this is not how a merge should be carried out. Doing things this way makes drivers stop abruptly, and it causes unnecessary lane changes that could result in accidents. It also slows traffic down because these backups can stretch for miles as cars use only one lane. They’re wasting a lot of physical space and making the backup worse. 

Every other car

Instead, drivers should use the zipper merge. To do this, everyone stays in both lanes, rather than merging into one lane. At the front of the line, they just take turns. Every other car gets to proceed. One goes from the right lane, then the car from the left lane merges in and continues. Then the next car from the right lane moves forward, followed by another car from the left lane – and so forth.

Unfortunately, many drivers do not understand how this process is intended to work or what the zipper merge is. They will sometimes react aggressively if you attempt to pass a line of stopped cars to merge at the front – even though this is exactly what you’re supposed to do. Sometimes, drivers will even try to cut you off or block the open lane.

All of this can lead to severe car accidents, and you need to know what legal steps to take if you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior.