INDOT wants you to learn how to ‘zipper merge’


INDIANA (WEHT) Big or small, nobody likes to see orange cones. But road construction is necessary to make sure we’re all safe when we travel. When you see traffic cones this spring, Indiana Department of Transportation wants to make a small change to how you respond.

This road work season, INDOT says they will be transitioning from merging early in construction zones, to merging late. It’s called ‘zipper merging.’ Zipper merges are designed to keep traffic moving by allowing drivers to use both lanes until reaching the merge point.

As drivers see “lane closed ahead” signs, they should stay in their current lane up to the designated merge point. Then drivers should take turns moving into the open lane. This practice is much safer than merging early, but it does require drivers to be respectful of each other. It also means that drivers who wait to merge until they’re right in front of the traffic cones are doing it right.

INDOT says there are several benefits to zipper merging:

  • Reduces speed differences between two lanes
  • Reduces queue length by up to 40 percent
  • Reduces congestion and keeps traffic moving smoothly
  • Creates a sense of fairness and equity that all lanes are moving at the same rate
  • Brings order to the merging process

Not all work zones would benefit from zipper merging, so pay attention to road signs to know whether or not to zipper merge.

(This story was published on March 3, 2021)

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