Zipper merging: the nice way to manage traffic

SEATTLE - We've all been there; stuck in stop-and-go traffic and then a driver zooms by, wanting to merge at the last second, instead of getting over when there's a space open. As it turns out- that person may actually be merging the right way.

The move is called the zipper merge and agencies across the state are trying to spread the word that this technique helps with the flow of traffic. It gets its name because the move resembles the teeth of a zipper when the cars from both lanes fold into each other. We spoke to the experts at PEMCO insurance about why officials are calling zipper merging the "new nice."

"It comes down to traffic flow science," said Derek Wing, Communications Manager at PEMCO. " Traffic actually moves about forty percent faster when all cars are going around the same speed, and also when people use as much of the pavement as possible for as long as possible."

Wing said drivers should try their best to go as close to the merge point as possible before taking turns with the cars in the other lane. The trouble comes when drivers merge early. Traffic backs up and people feel taken advantage of when they see a car flying down the lane next to them. According to officials, accidents are more likely to happen when drivers try to punish the merger and refuse to let them in.

It might feel like a driver is being pushy when they try to merge, but PEMCO said don't think of it as cutting in line- instead, think of it as taking turns, because learning to zipper merge will get everyone where they need to go- faster and safer.