State Police Say Drivers Who Zip Up Lane To Merge Last Minute Are Doing It Right

July 25, 2019 - 4:03 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) - You think you're being polite, and that other guy's a jerk...but could you be wrong?

When drivers see a sign signaling a lane closure ahead, many feel they need to get over and wait, wait, wait in line. Michigan State Police say, however, that drivers should continue using both open lanes until they run out of road. 

According to MSP First Lt. Mike Shaw, what's called a "zipper merge" helps keep traffic from getting needlessly jammed in construction zones.

"If you have traffic that remains in both lanes as it approached the merge, and once you arrive you just kinda rotate back and forth going through the merge area like a zipper, it's actually a lot faster," Shaw told WWJ's Lauren Barthold. 

"If you have 300 cars that are only driving in one lane, the backup that's gonna come from that is gonna be longer. If you have that same 300 cars in both lanes as they're moving towards there, that's more lanes that are being utilized," he said. "That's less backup, less frustration."

While the zipper merge is not mandatory under the law, Shaw said it is the preferred method; and drivers who do it are not cutting in line.

He warned that those who try to prevent others from continuing to use an open lane could get into trouble.

"You've always got the guy or the gal or the semi truck driver that's going to try to block that open lane. That's actually impeding traffic and we will stop and ticket you for that. That's not your responsibility as a driver," Shaw said.

Impeding traffic is typically a $100 ticket, he said, but it could be worse.

"If it's determined that you're driving careless," Shaw said. "...Reckless (driving) is a misdemeanor with six points on your license."