It can be a cause of confusion, anger and efficiency all rolled into one.
For the first time, SGI is including the zipper merge into its latest version of the Saskatchewan Driver’s Handbook.
“We are saying it is time to embrace the zipper merge,” said SGI’s Tyler McMurchy.
“It is the most efficient way to get through a construction zone where one lane ends and two lanes become one.”
The idea of the merge is for drivers to use both lanes until the one lane ends, at which time drivers then alternate into the open lane in a zipper-like fashion.
However, there are many drivers who don’t seem to be familiar with the concept. That was evident as SGI’s director of driver development Shay Shpak took 980 CJME through a construction zone zipper merge along Arcola Avenue near the exit to Ring Road. Vehicles were merging way too early, according to Shpak, leaving one of the lanes virtually vacant and the other lane unusually long.
“We’re just so considerate. We don’t want to tick anyone off for butting ahead of the line,” she said. “They are sacrificing efficiency for courtesy.”
McMurchy said the Canadian Automobile Association studied bottlenecks and released a report earlier this year, noting zipper merging is an efficient way to keeping traffic flowing through construction zones. Other larger cities have already embraced the traffic control measure, such as Saskatoon, where McMurchy said signs are posted to alert drivers.
SGI doesn’t put signs up directly. That’s up to the Ministry of Highways, municipalities or a contractor working in a construction zone McMurchy outlined.
Signs or not, SGI believes drivers should make the zipper method part of their regular construction-zone driving habits, where and when applicable. Shpak thinks that will go a long way for drivers.
“Drive with less emotion and more efficiency and we’ll all get home faster.”