Zipper Merge


I was raised in New York where people have zero tolerance for almost anything they find objectionable.  If you have been in traffic and do not move within a fraction of a second after the car in front of you moves, you will hear honking from behind you to get going.  Time delays are in fact called a New York minute which means instantly.

Driving in the South, especially on the major roads, shows how courteous people are in general.  If the sign ahead says a lane will disappear, people merge way ahead of the merge point.  As a result, they tend to jam up and stop leaving a lane next to them empty.

People like me use that empty lane and then merge at the last point.  This is wired into me because I am from New York where drivers almost instinctively wait for the last minute.  In fact, they may ride the shoulder even beyond the merge to eke out another few feet of “lead” compared to the imaginary competitor they are driven to beat to the next exit or traffic light.

So, feeling my driving roots from New York and being in the South for so long I was a bit stunned to see an article justifying my New York driving habits.  It was from a few years ago but was recently posted to Facebook so it was news to me.  The November 4th, 2016 article from “HowStuffWorks” describes the right way to merge and it indeed is the Northern method.  It is called zipper merging because the cars take turns (in a perfect world).  Of course, in New York, the merge becomes more of a game of guts about how assertive you are going to be in the merge.

Here is a link to the article on How Stuff Works.

It is nice to be right, but in the South, you will probably get a hand gesture and worse for being so efficient.

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