You may have never learned what a zipper or alternate merge is in your drivers education class. It's still a relatively new thing, so some people just don't understand how it works, and tend to get angry when other drivers are merging differently than they were taught.

Within the last decade or so, several two-lane roads in Maine that eventually merge into one lane have had signs posted that read 'Alternate Merge', something that is used in several states across the country as a more efficient way to merge. Some states call it the "zipper" merge because the traffic flow looks like a zipper with the two lanes becoming one.

But some drivers are still doing it the old way, and gunning it to beat the other lane of traffic to the merge. Portland even had to put up a sign instructing drivers to 'Take Turns', which many don't.

Google Maps
Google Maps

The Ohio DOT has an excellent graphic that shows how the alternate or zipper merge works. And when you look at it, it makes perfect sense.

They say that the zipper merge eases congestion in construction zones and shortens backups by 40%. It's safe, and keeps traffic moving as long as some impatient driver doesn't decide to be the jerk that rushes up to the merge without waiting his or her turn.

So don't be that guy. Prepare to alternate from one lane to the next as you approach the zipper merge, and don't get pushy. You may think you're saving time, but if you are, that time is very minimal.

The zipper merge. Learn it. Know it. Live it.

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