The Proper Way To Merge?

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Turtle's Comment
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While a "zipper merge" would be optimal

That's the very point I'm making. It's optimal, although not always realistic.

the notion that "alternating one vehicle from each lane at a time" will actually work in todays world, is a "pipe dream".

Even more so is the notion that everyone will get in line early. The fact is that someone will always take the open lane. Courtesy and playing nice will be largely absent on both sides of the argument, no doubt. However, I've seen far more courtesy at a zipper than otherwise.

Is it safer to merge early? That's debatable, but I don't think it is. At least not always. Faced with the options of either slowly rolling up to the merge point, or constant stop and go, brake checks, and near misses as someone cuts in front of me at slightest gap, I'll take option A.

To be clear, I'm not "that guy" who zips up the open lane, passing everyone who played nice. That's just wrong on many levels. Quite the contrary, I'm right in line with them. But am am I going to leave one line of traffic to merge early into the other line of traffic? Nope, not when it's safer to stay where I am.

And no, I've never bullied my way into a line. Not my style.

Situations will always be different from day to day, of course. Given the choice, I'll stick with my optimal preference.

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
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Why would you NOT want to get over, as soon as you know you have to?

Because in governed trucks it can be a danger to merge immediately and some idiot flying the hammer lane at 75 mph won't slow down in time to realize you can only go 62mph. That means some aggressive driver is behind me, riding my butt, blowing his horn and then gets right to pass me.... causing an accident in the right lane cause he can't wait.

And signs have no comformity of distance before the merge. It can be 2 miles, 1 mile or 1/2 a mile, they don't always tell you the distance. That makes a huge difference. There is no reason for me to impede traffic especially if the work zone speed limits have not been set yet. Even in the work zones of 50 mph with "Trucks Left Lane Only" signs, I have to deal with trucks being aggressive cause I am driving legally.

I do not let them stress me out, but I dont want to enrage them into an accident.


Operating While Intoxicated

Turtle's Comment
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We all recognize the jerks on the road when it comes time to merge. A construction project has narrowed the number of open lanes, and these motorists have the audacity to shoot to the front of the line and cut into the remaining open lane amid a chorus of honks, yells and gestures. However, they're the ones who are merging correctly, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. The department has been promoting for a decade the "zipper method" of merging when traffic is particularly congested. Officials recommend this late-merge strategy in which drivers use the entire roadway and take turns merging from the closed lane into the open one at the point when the road narrows. In heavy congestion, this strategy reduces delays by as much as 35 percent, according to the department. When people merge early, they create a more severe backup because they leave a lane unused, CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson said. Despite the department's decade-long education effort, people still merge early, though merging early in low congestion does have less of a negative impact. "I don't know what it's going to take to get people on board," Wilson said. "Changing people's driving behaviors is a long process."


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Turtle's Comment
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The orange highway sign with black letters holds a familiar warning: “Lane closed ahead.”

What do you do?

If your instinct is to immediately get out of the lane that will be closing, you may think you are being courteous to fellow drivers by reacting early — but in reality you could be slowing traffic, experts say.

It may sound like a breach of etiquette to wait until the last minute to merge, but traffic engineers and transportation departments in several states are promoting that exact move, sometimes with mixed results as they try to overcome drivers’ ingrained habits.

The maneuver is known as the late merge — or zipper merge, for the way that cars taking turns getting into a lane resembles the teeth of a zipper coming together. The move, in which drivers in dense, slow-moving traffic remain in the lane that will be closed and then pull into the other lane at the merge point, helps ease congestion and drivers’ frustrations, experts said.


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Turtle's Comment
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Those are just the first couple from a long list of Google search results on a zipper merge.


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Pete E Pothole's Comment
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Mr Curmudgeon curses:


[What about the] "slow you down because somebody does something in front of you" setting?


The Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) usually automatically puts 3 seconds between you and the vehicle in front.

I wouldn't call it "accursed" - I like the ACC. You won't be sneaking up on the truck in front who is going 1mph less that you. The only problem I see if that you don't notice that itsy bitty slowdown for five minutes then you think "WTF!" and start your pass maneuver.

While we're in the subject of merging, what's with the two trucks that line up and block both lanes so no one can pass toward the front?

Those mentioned in the last paragraph consider themselves traffic control heroes, making sure people arent getting too far in front of them in the open lane.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rubber Duck's Comment
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I vote for everyone to wait until they get to the end of the ramp or merge point and then get on. Or merge as space becomes available at any point leading up to the end. Stopping on the merge lane with a quarter mile left of merge lane creates a never ending log jam.

Diver Driver's Comment
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Ah, the oft debated subject of merging. My opinion?

What should happen:

Everyone stays in their lane until they reach the merge point, then take turns getting into the travel lane. Very efficient, nobody gets upset, smooth operation.

What actually happens:

Driver thinks it's better to get in line early, then is immediately passed by a dozen other vehicles, trucks and four wheelers alike. Driver is somehow surprised by this, and now angered. "Well I got in line way back there, so I'm sure as hell not going to let anybody in front of me now!" Temps flare, brakes are jammed, bottleneck worsens.

I'm a firm believer in maintaining your lane until the merge point. Because if you get in line a mile back and expect everybody to follow suit, I'm sorry but you're foolish. It'll never happen. Someone will always see that open lane and take it, ticking you off.

That said, if everyone in front of me is merging early, I'll do the same, knowing a bunch of cars will probably pass me. But I don't care, it doesn't upset me. I'll let them in at the merge point because in the big picture, I'd rather have them in front of me anyway.

There are construction zones with signs specifically saying to "Stay in lane until merge point". When the drivers follow those signs, I've found it to be the most efficient and courteous way of merging.

That's my take anyway

I try to keep the visual of a glass full of big rocks (trucks) they are stuck. But you can add small rocks and sand (4 wheelers and bikes) and they will flow around you. While I might block a car on the shoulder, a bike will always get a pass. Just my personal feelings.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


Operating While Intoxicated

Dave Reid's Comment
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As soon as I know what the thru lane is, I get into it at the next good opportunity. It's safer and less stressful, so long as you don't let others stress you out.

So what do you think? Is it better to merge early when you see that sign in a construction zone that says, "right lane ends merge left". Or do you think it is better to ride the lane until it ends and then merge at the last minute? I've seen it argued both ways. For the record, I get over ASAP...but that doesn't mean it's right.


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The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

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