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Merging Traffic Lanes


goldberry
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Okay, so I've been wondering about this. (Heavy topic, I know!)  In the "things I hate" thread I think, it was mentioned that someone hates when a lane is closed and someone waits until the last minute to get over. To clarify, I am not talking about on a highway or something similar where everyone is moving and you have plenty of notice that a lane is ending.

 

I'm talking about in town, say a regular two lane road is down to one lane because of construction or something.  I was in this situation today.  Both lanes were backed up pretty far.  Some people were merging way far back (before the actual lane closure) and some were going up to the point where the lane was closed and merging.

 

I assume the people merging farther back were either doing so to make sure they got a spot and didn't get cut off, or because they thought it was better to do so sooner than later.  But it SEEMS to me that the most effective method of merging (at least when the lanes are backed up so people are just creeping forward) is for everyone to wait until the end.  Then every other car would go (assuming no jerks involved).  Everyone in the open lane would end up letting one person in front of them, and everyone would move on.  When people merge farther back, it really just clogs up the works.  When that happens, inevitably you are letting two, three, four people in front of you over that period between where the lanes first back up and the lanes merge. 

 

Isn't this correct?  (Yeah, I waste mental energy over strange topics on occasion....)

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I will say I hate that! And I'm pretty much a merge sooner rather than later person but I did read an article that said it was more traffic efficient if people filled the lane until the last minute. It was apparently better for traffic to utilize all the space until it merges.

 

So since then I try not to let it annoy me :)

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Yeah, the people who jump the line of cars are cut in right at the cones? I just make them wait, I refuse to let someone merge who didn't plan ahead a good two hundred feet or so. I don't care if it's right or not, it drives me up the wall.

 

ETA - read the link and I wonder if that is part of it - I learned to drive in California and merging last minute on an on ramp or traffic cut was considered the height of jerkdom and much discouraged. Like, merge early or prepare to be run off the road.

Edited by Arctic Mama
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Have you ever driven in New Jersey? Or New York?

 

Drivers would rather hit your car than let you merge.

I'm in Sacramento and we just made a list of worse drivers so that's been my experience. I've seen people almost get hit trying to squeeze someone out.

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I've heard both points of view, and I think it does make sense for people to wait until the end to merge. In practice, ime, if there's a lot of traffic and you wait until the last second, no one is going to let you in and you're stuck sitting there for ten minutes.

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Zipper merge is the right way to do it, but people honk and refuse to let you in if you don't merge ridiculously early.  It's dumb. 

 

On the other hand, I was annoyed the other day when I was driving in Nashville.  I was in the left hand lane; traffic was very heavy.  A full fledged semi truck came up on my left in the emergency/ not really a lane and then pushed its way in.  There was nowhere for me to go to get out of the way.  I really thought I was going to die.

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 But it SEEMS to me that the most effective method of merging (at least when the lanes are backed up so people are just creeping forward) is for everyone to wait until the end.  Then every other car would go (assuming no jerks involved).  Everyone in the open lane would end up letting one person in front of them, and everyone would move on.  When people merge farther back, it really just clogs up the works.  When that happens, inevitably you are letting two, three, four people in front of you over that period between where the lanes first back up and the lanes merge. 

 

Yes, absolutely.  This is much more efficient.  I wait as long as possible - then, when we get to the merge, almost all of the time some guy is 3 car lengths behind the next car and I can get in, and I haven't cut anyone off and no one would have gotten anywhere any faster if I hadn't cut in late because the space was already there.  In fact, if I cut in earlier, I make the line longer, and everyone, not just me, waits longer. The guy holding up the line is the one who insists on staying 3-6 car lengths from the guy in front.  What is UP with that?

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Yes--I agree, wait until the end.  The people who change lanes early, IMO, mess things up.

 

(Actually, I just googled it, and sure enough, we're right!  Here's the link--be warned that there is some off color language in the title.)

 

I feel vindicated! :)

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I've heard both points of view, and I think it does make sense for people to wait until the end to merge. In practice, ime, if there's a lot of traffic and you wait until the last second, no one is going to let you in and you're stuck sitting there for ten minutes.

 

In this area it's mostly based on the speed of the traffic.  If traffic is stop and go, people will let you in (except for the occasional jerk).  But if that other lane gets going too fast, then no.

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.

 

Some construction zones now have signs that direct people to do it that way, since so many people do think it's cutting.

 

This!  I would love to see this, I think it would help.  Then people wouldn't be annoyed, and the traffic would flowwww...  (in my dream world, anyway...)

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Yeah, the people who jump the line of cars are cut in right at the cones? I just make them wait, I refuse to let someone merge who didn't plan ahead a good two hundred feet or so. I don't care if it's right or not, it drives me up the wall.

 

ETA - read the link and I wonder if that is part of it - I learned to drive in California and merging last minute on an on ramp or traffic cut was considered the height of jerkdom and much discouraged. Like, merge early or prepare to be run off the road.

 

Would it make a difference if there was a sign?  Or now that you know it's the more efficient way to merge?

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In all these places where no one gets let in, is that even when the traffic is stop and go?  That seems so rude to me.  When you're already stop and go, who cares about one more car?  

 

Yes, especially when it's stop and go.  People will ride the bumper of the car in front of them to make sure that there is no room for someone to squeeze in.  I don't agree with it, but it's the way it was (and probably still is) where I grew up.

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Waiting until the end to merge is a traffic nightmare here. Sometime the police would come and direct traffic if a lane was close for an event. Being stuck in traffic is a valid reason to be late for work. Bay Area traffic is infamous.

 

You know, all this 'cutting in line' nonsense is probably because everyone was brainwashed by all the lines at institutional school. This is not a cafeteria line, people. ;)

This cutting in line behavior actually happens every weekday at the US101 exit to Google's headquarters. We take the same US101 exit except we turn left to go to our kids chinese tuition session while the people going to work cut into the rightmost turning lane from the quite empty second rightmost lane. They see a gap and they "parallel park" their way into the jammed up lane.

 

We see too many "People behaving badly (news channel TV show http://kron4.com/category/features/people-behaving-badly/)" behaving that way in real life.

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Zipper merging is better for everyone. People need to learn to love it. There should be a PSA about it and news features or something. We had a few areas in one place we used to live that had signs and lights encouraging zipper merging and it made the lanes flow much more smoothly. Where I live now, people get so upset about it.

 

Personally, even though I know zipper merging is best, I always get over early if I can. I like to get over early even if there's no merge coming up and it's as simple as I just know I need to eventually be in a certain lane. I also always let people in. I don't care if they cut. I think it's good for traffic if everyone lets one car in. Sometimes I let 2 cars in. I get annoyed when I'm being nice and letting a car or two in and then another car tries to force its way in. That's rude and greedy!

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I was taught that waiting until the end was akin to cutting in line.

It's only cutting in line because all the people that get over a mile or two ahead of time. If a short section of road is down to one lane why turn it into miles of unused lane? I used to feel exactly as you feel and would get over early but now I feel enough people are hearing that they should utilize the full road that I'm not caring. If two or three people don't let me in that is ok since if both lanes aren't moving at the same pace I can just wait but really it would work perfectly if everyone did it and both lanes moved equally.

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Zipper merging makes sense to me in situations where there's not a lot of warning and/or where stoplights, stop signs and business or residential driveways affect the movement of traffic. IOW, city and suburban streets. On an interstate or wide open, multi-lane state highway where warning is often given many miles ahead that a lane is closed? In those situations it makes sense to move over early, and I do think those who wait until they reach the end of the lane and then expect to be let over are essentially breaking in line.

Edited by Pawz4me
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Zipper merge would be great if people actually did it. Just like opposing sides are supposed to take turns on one lane bridges. There are just people who won't do it.

 

I understand the early mergers though. They've usually had experience with trying to merge late and not be let in so they merge early. Then they let a few people in, but they get tired of letting people in after the 3d or 4th.

 

Unless people learn the zipper it's a frustrating process for both the early and late merge groups.

 

Maybe that should be an essential element of drivers ed.

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Using both lanes and alternating at the merge point is much better from a traffic flow perspective.

 

Some construction zones now have signs that direct people to do it that way, since so many people do think it's cutting.

 

If the sign says something like "give gap, take gap" then alternating is expected, and people do it.

 

 If you are told a half a mile ahead that the right lane ends, it seems like that is telling you to go ahead and move over at the first available opportunity.  I think lots of people feel that way, because here waiting til the last minute is a recipe for road rage, and people who moved over at the first sign stick to the bumper in front and refuse to give gap at all.

 

I think merging would be less of an issue if the signs and authorities were very clear on what people were supposed to do.

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There's how things should be, and then there's how things need to be.

 

It drives me insane when people try to wave me through stop signs or otherwise give up their right of way.  I have to stop. It is the law.  Why does that annoy another driver so much?!?

 

I once had a school bus driver emphatically waving me on.  I'm sure it was due to the size of the bus needing me out of the way to navigate a turn.  But, had I followed their direction, I would have been t-boned by the bus that was coming up the 55mph road!  :driving:

 

Anyway, yeah, I usually merge early, because I don't trust anyone to let me in later.

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Zipper merge is the best and it's what we use all the time - everywhere, NY + NJ included.  We've never had a problem getting over where we should TBH and quite honestly don't mind moving up in line due to all of those who can't figure out how to zipper merge.  As soon as we find out a lane is going to close, we know that's the one to get into.  It's not our fault others feel the need to take the slow route.  I don't understand it, but that's their choice.

 

We've been in areas where there are signs telling people to use both lanes until the merge, but oodles don't anyway.

 

What really annoys us is when there are trucks feeling the need to slow down both lanes.  We see this often.  On one of our last trips this month there were two trucks driving side by side on I 81 in PA heading south (we were heading north) and they left a full quarter mile (at least) empty in front of both of them - both lanes.  That was a first.  One knows that was nothing but a power trip.  Had we been behind them knowing what they were doing, that's a time to pass on the shoulder (which we never do unless getting off an exit when everyone else is continuing straight).

 

There is a lane closure for X miles.  There's absolutely no reason whatsoever to make it X + Y miles in length.  It's really not a difficult concept, but as long as oodles can't figure that out, we'll appreciate being able to move up a ton. ;)

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There's how things should be, and then there's how things need to be.

 

It drives me insane when people try to wave me through stop signs or otherwise give up their right of way.  I have to stop. It is the law.  Why does that annoy another driver so much?!?

 

We had to get used to driving here where we live.  Local "rules" differ (not legally, but in reality).  Instead of a driver on the right/turning right or whatever having the right of way, whoever got there first has the right of way.  

 

We could have insisted upon being different, but if we had, it'd be far more dangerous and annoying to everyone else.

 

One does have to be careful in case there are tourists or other new-to-the-area drivers who don't understand the local way of doing things - and we have to be careful when we travel that we don't carry over our hometown habits.

 

But in general, it does seem nicer that whoever got there first gets to go first - or whoever is making the more difficult turn, etc (as that happens too sometimes), so we've adapted.  When in Rome...

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We had to get used to driving here where we live.  Local "rules" differ (not legally, but in reality).  Instead of a driver on the right/turning right or whatever having the right of way, whoever got there first has the right of way.  

 

:confused1:  :confused1:

 

The law in all states that I'm aware of says that at intersections w/o lights the car that arrives first has the right of way. If two or more vehicles arrive simultaneously then the vehicle to your right has the right of way. 

 

Source

 

Source

 

Source

 

Are you saying that in your state drivers who arrive at an intersection first do NOT have the right of way?

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:confused1:  :confused1:

 

The law in all states that I'm aware of says that at intersections w/o lights the car that arrives first has the right of way. If two or more vehicles arrive simultaneously then the vehicle to your right has the right of way. 

 

Source

 

Source

 

Source

 

Are you saying that in your state drivers who arrive at an intersection first do NOT have the right of way?

 

That was what I was saying in my hurry this morning... without clear thinking.  ;)  You're right.  That's not the difference locally.  The local difference is that whoever has the more difficult turn gets the right of way whether they were there first or not.  At a four way stop, everyone takes turns as it's supposed to be.  At a normal intersection with two stop signs, it's common for someone turning left to get to go first if the traffic allows even if they technically aren't supposed to because someone across from them is turning right or going straight.  

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Some of us just want to be peaceful and not have to compete for a spot.  If I know in advance what lane I need to be in, I'll get into that lane early and just chill - unless I'm in a hurry.

 

I also like to drive in the slow lane and let everyone else pass me as they please.

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I saw this discussed on facebook under an article. I guess it's more efficient to merge later, but in reality people aren't going to operate like the article. So I say merge sooner.

 

I hate driving in general where lanes keep ending (not because of construction but because part of my drive there are like 4-5 lines, then 4, then 3. Ugh it's a navigating nightmare when I need to take an exit and can't remember what lane to be in. Should I get in the far right or will that lane end before my exit?)

 

(edited: construction not traffic)

Edited by heartlikealion
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Have you ever driven in New Jersey? Or New York?

 

Drivers would rather hit your car than let you merge.

I grew up driving in LA and I can merge like nobody's business. You want to shut me out? Well, here I come!

 

I am a merge at the last minute person in a slow moving situation like the one described above. Mostly because it's the fastest route for me. If a bunch of people are merging early and I'm in the non merging lane, I might even jump out into the merging lane and drive up a bit further, then re-merge.

 

LA trains you to drive on a much different level.

 

ETA- my inner LA driver will not allow people to shut me out of merging, but I will always make room for someone trying to merge into my lane.

Edited by Sassenach
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Yeah, the people who jump the line of cars are cut in right at the cones? I just make them wait, I refuse to let someone merge who didn't plan ahead a good two hundred feet or so. I don't care if it's right or not, it drives me up the wall.

 

ETA - read the link and I wonder if that is part of it - I learned to drive in California and merging last minute on an on ramp or traffic cut was considered the height of jerkdom and much discouraged. Like, merge early or prepare to be run off the road.

LOL, I grew up in LA and I think of it exactly opposite. Blocking a merger out is expected, because LA, but absolutely the jerkiest move.

 

ETA- I wonder which one of us would win in that duel. I think we're both pretty hardcore and I'm guessing that you also drive a huge van. Lol

Edited by Sassenach
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If the sign says something like "give gap, take gap" then alternating is expected, and people do it.

 

If you are told a half a mile ahead that the right lane ends, it seems like that is telling you to go ahead and move over at the first available opportunity. I think lots of people feel that way, because here waiting til the last minute is a recipe for road rage, and people who moved over at the first sign stick to the bumper in front and refuse to give gap at all.

 

I think merging would be less of an issue if the signs and authorities were very clear on what people were supposed to do.

Our construction crews gave warning way ahead of time (I think you need to on freeway situations as some times of the day people may be moving faster) but they also had signs to please merge in xxx feet not please merge now. They also had a flashing sign about zipper merging. I realize this may not be the case everywhere but I found that the social rules of queing were stronger than being directed by construction signs.

 

I hate passing everyone but I also don't want to be part of the problem that turns a 500 ft. obstruction into a 30 mile one.I understand this is one of those times were social norms were developed in a poor manner and fixing them won't be easy. I also used to think it was rude to be in the emptying lane until I had it explained to me. I still feel torn because I don't want people to think I'm a jerk.

Edited by frogger
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I guess I have always figured that traffic signs are put where they are for a reason. "Single lane 1/2 mile ahead" to me means "There is going to be a crunch soon, so get over as soon as you get a chance!" Most people around here seem to think it means " Stay exactly as you are until the absolute last minute, then speed up and drive like a maniac to get ahead of as many people as you can, then slam on your brakes, lay on your horn, and swear and gesture rudely at the drivers who didn't let your precious snowflake self in!"

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Our construction crews gave warning way ahead of time but they also had signs to please merge in xxx feet not please merge now.

I think people don't mind waiting to merge nearer the lane closure if it wasn't bumper to bumper traffic. We are often in peak hour traffic due to outside classes schedules and it is really hard to get into the merging lane to go onto the ramp for the freeway unless we do the merging early. The construction on that particular stretch of main road which links two popular freeways went on for more than two years and was near the on ramp entrances.

 

It is common to see traffic accidents from people cutting in even though there is no gap to cut in. Then it becomes even more of a traffic nightmare with two to three patrol cars checking out the crash of three cars.

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In theory I'm in favor of zipper merging. But I'm a little bit anxious when driving and when traffic is backing up I don't want to be that person who is struggling to find a spot to slip into. I also get annoyed when it's down to the last 100 feet and everyone has merged into the one lane and some yahoo zooms past everyone to slip in at the very last second. 

 

Also, it would help if the highway signs didn't tell you to merge.  When the sign says left lane ends in a quarter mile and to merge right, I assume they mean to start merging when you see an opening. I do what I'm told. g   They might consider adding 'zipper merge ahead, left lane ends 1/2 mile' or something. Put that concept into drivers' heads. 

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:confused1:  :confused1:

 

The law in all states that I'm aware of says that at intersections w/o lights the car that arrives first has the right of way. If two or more vehicles arrive simultaneously then the vehicle to your right has the right of way. 

 

Source

 

Source

 

Source

 

Are you saying that in your state drivers who arrive at an intersection first do NOT have the right of way?

 

 

Apparently lots of people here believe that--I can't count the number of times I've had people stop when I'm still halfway down the block, wait for me to come to a stop, then wave me through. They could have crossed the intersection 12 times, but they have to be "nice" and wave someone else thru.  :huh:

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Interstate or multi-lane state highway signs around here will typically say something like: "Left lane closed at MM 101. Merge right." Which I have always taken to mean "merge into the right lane now or as soon as you can."

 

I think one difference may be in how heavily traveled the roads are. Even at rush hour here our traffic is nothing like LA, Atlanta or other big cities. So I really can't imagine how on earth merging ahead of time could take more time (traffic would likely be moving at a slightly slower but steady pace even with everyone in one lane, as long as everyone merged in an orderly manner) or that zipper merging could possibly be more efficient. Now if traffic were very heavy/bumper to bumper . . . then maybe I could see how it would work better.

Edited by Pawz4me
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Where I live a highway with multiple lanes can move to a crawl or even a complete stop if there is a lost lane during busy morning or evening times.

 

Zipper merging definitly works better for those bumper to bumper times wheras it isn't important to use every inch of lane at 4 in the morning. It is nice to know miles ahead of time when you are actually going fast.

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