Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’ve all been there, road construction forces everybody to get into one lane. Don’t you hate it when one guy waits until the last possible moment to merge, instead of getting in line and waiting his turn?
Well, guess what? That guy who waits until the last minute is actually doing it right. It’s called the zipper merge.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is mounting an ad campaign to get you to zipper merge.
Apparently, Minnesotans have been merging wrong for years. When there’s a lane closure ahead or if an interstate loses a lane, we merge too early.
The correct way, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the State Patrol, is the zipper merge. MnDOT says the zipper merge could ease traffic congestion by 40 percent.
On eastbound Highway 36, we did the zipper merge, scooting past cars patiently waiting incorrectly.
Not only does the zipper ease traffic and get you where you are going, the State Patrol says it is safer.
“Where we run into trouble is when one lane is stopped or very slow and the other lane is traveling at a high rate of speed and someone tries to move out into that lane, there is a greater chance of a crash,” Lt. Eric Roeske said.
At times blowing past a line of cars waiting patiently seems so un-Minnesotan.
“That’s really good to know,” one driver said. “We are all so Minnesota nice.”
If you are worried that you might not remember the zipper or that you hang onto your old merging habits in most cases MnDOT has signs encouraging you to use both lanes.
MnDOT says there is one time when you shouldn’t use the Zipper Merge.
If traffic is moving at highway speeds and there are no backups — move to the lane that stays open through a construction zone as soon as you can.