Lane closures can cause huge traffic buildups.

Drivers in Lafayette Parish seem to deal with these on a daily basis as construction projects are happening across the Hub City, especially on Ambassador Caffery Parkway. At peak traffic times, it's common to see traffic in the open lane jammed up quite a ways while the lane with the upcoming lane closure has lots of open road next to the long line of traffic.

Ambassador Caffery at Dulles Drive, TSM Photo
Ambassador Caffery at Dulles Drive, TSM Photo

Many times, I hear drivers complain about other drivers who refuse to sit in those long traffic lines, ride the lane with the impending lane closure and merge into the open lane as they approach the closure. It's a driving pet peeve for many motorists who believe they are doing the right thing by "waiting my turn in line" while those "jerks cut ahead of me."

Well, there is a process called the zipper merge that is actually encouraged by law enforcement. If you simply type in "zipper merge" in a Facebook search or a Google search, you will find people and groups of people who advocate for it.

Many times, drivers will merge from the closing lane to the opening lane early. They may think they are doing the traffic world a favor by doing so but many law enforcement agencies and transportation departments advise against that.

With the zipper merge, drivers simply keep their vehicles in their respective lanes until the merge point, when vehicles in the open or continuous lane alternate with the vehicle in the closing lane.

It's like the teeth of a zipper!

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, this increases the traffic volume through the merge point by 40%.

Of course, drivers in both lanes have to work together to make it happen successfully.

"Merge late. Cooperate."

"Zip it Good!"

These are just a couple of the catchy - and sometimes hilarious phrases - that law enforcement agencies and transportation departments use to get people to cooperate so that traffic can flow more smoothly.

So, next time you are approaching a lane closure, try working with your fellow drivers because the zipper merge is most effective when vehicles in both lanes are working together to keep the rhythm moving forward!

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