Hollywood, MD – The zipper merge is probably one of the most widely known highway maneuvers, yet seldom used. This is used when two lanes of traffic are coming to either a lane ending or closed due to construction/accident. Most people get angry or frustrated when they are waiting in a line of congestion and see a vehicle cruise past them, “going to the front of the line.”

It’s actually smarter and safer to do this. If you keep traffic flowing and alternate vehicles around the merge area; most times keeps traffic moving. Studies have shown that using the zipper merge reduces overall traffic backups by 40percent and reduces the differences in speed between two lanes( which reduces accidents).

So how does the zipper merge work? You’re driving along and see either “lane closed ahead” or “lane ends….”; so you stay in your lane until you start coming up in the merge area. At this point right and left lanes take turns going through the merge area, much as a “zipper” alternates teeth when zipping up.

This video by the Kansas Department of Transportation explains it in more details: