Zipper Merge & Road Rage
The zipper merge is the standard in many parts of the world and has been proven to be safer, faster, and fairer than the wait-in-a-long-line method favoured by Canadian drivers.
The well-known politeness of Canadians is actually detrimental to a smooth transition through a bottleneck. A 2004 study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council found that traffic that stays in motion tends to clear the obstacle quicker. When done correctly, a zipper merge reduces starts and stops and keeps traffic flowing which in turn, gets you home sooner.
A zipper merge is when drivers fully use both lanes and delay merging until they reach the obstruction that’s causing the bottleneck. Canadian drivers consider this the automotive equivalent of cutting line and good manners dictate that they should merge into one long line and patiently wait their turn. Ironically, the most polite thing Canadians drivers can do when merging is to selfishly use that empty lane which in turn will keep traffic moving.
On the Sunshine Coast, the location where implementing the zipper merge would be on the bypass that we all take when coming off the ferry. If we all did this, it would help to eliminate the long line of cars in one lane along with the aggravation we all feel when someone goes against the flow and drives up the empty lane to “push in”.
We have all felt aggravation or “road rage” at one time or another in traffic. It is more frequent in the summer months on the Coast when tourists flock to this beautiful part of the world.
Carfax Canada (www.carfax.ca) has the following tips to avoid feeling road rage on the Coast this summer:
Take your time: Whether you’re driving to work or taking a trip to the grocery store, don’t rush. Give yourself plenty of time by leaving early and having realistic expectations. If you’re running late, accept the fact that you’ll probably be late. You can’t make up time on the road and if you try to, you’ll only stress yourself out.
Forgive and forget: Understand that drivers are humans and they make mistakes. If another driver almost hits you or pulls out in front of you, be thankful that an accident didn’t happen and move on. Don’t take these mistakes personally and don’t overreact. Wild gestures or yelling will only work to get everyone heated up and angry.
Use your horn sparingly: The purpose of your horn is to alert or warn other drivers of your presence. It’s not an instrument to vent your frustration. Even a polite honk can be taken the wrong way so only use your horn when it’s absolutely necessary.
Don’t aggravate others:
You can’t expect others to follow the rules of the road if you don’t. Be courteous to other drivers and communicate your intentions. Use your signal lights, don’t tailgate, don’t putt around in the passing lane, don’t hog the lane and drive a steady, even speed.
Tony Browton is an award-winning Realtor who lives and works on BC’s Sunshine Coast. His weekly blog can be found here http://www.truebluerealty.ca/blog