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In a hurry? MDOT says zipper merging on the freeway can get you there faster

Posted at 10:33 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 15:50:11-04

LANSING, Mich. — It's that time of year when construction is near.

And accidents. Nearly 60 percent of crashes happen at the back of the freeway queue line.

Which is one reason why zipper merging is important.

Never heard of it? You're not alone. But experts say zipper merging is the safest and fastest way to go from two lanes down to one in construction zones.

“A zipper merge is something that can improve the flow and improve the safety of the work zone if it’s done properly," said Chris Brookes, work zone engineer for the Michigan Department of Transportation. “It usually works best when you’re going from two lanes down to one and you have a traffic volume of 1400 to 1700 vehicles per hour."

Simply put, zipper merging is when drivers don't move over into a single lane right way but instead use both lanes until just before one ends, then merge like the teeth of a zipper coming together.

Though it may seem easier to merge early, it's not. Zipper merging helps to keep traffic flowing. But it requires getting rid of the idea that folks driving down to the end of the lane that's disappearing are somehow cutting in line.

When done properly, MDOT said zipper merging prevents backups by 40 percent and prevents crashes.

US traffic deaths fell slightly in first half of year

ANNAPOLIS, MD - MAY 27: Traffic eastbound on Rt 50 moves at slow pace toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, May 27, 2016 in Annapolis, Maryland. Area traffic is expected to be heavy through the Memorial Day weekend. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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