‘Like a zip’ they say and that’s the easiest way to describe the best way for vehicles to merge, (where a vehicle from the left lane goes and then a vehicle from the right lane goes, and so on. As you merge, let one vehicle from the other lane go first, and then go), so why do driver’s find it so ‘kin hard to do? This week’s Tarmac Tantrum is about the how c##p we are at merging.
(Unless you buy your clothing from K-Mart) The principle of a zip is rather simple, it consists of two parts, the slider and the elements. The slider joins or separates the elements when the zipper is opened or closed, while the elements (teeth), are the parts on each side of a zipper that mesh, or engage, with each other when passed through the slider. What’s even simpler, is that merging is just the elements part – so why do drivers get this wrong?
Only this week, I have seen vehicles whiz down the on-ramp, only to be blocked by someone ‘speeding up’ on the SH1 (which is illegal). I have seen vehicles STOP and wait for someone to allow them onto the motorway. I have seen vehicles cross the merge box (before the end of the on ramp) in order to get into a gap they have spotted – only to hold up the traffic behind them, and don’t get me started about lanes that merge due to end of dual carriageways, road works or layout changes where d##kheads queue jump. I could go on.
It should be an orderly join of two lanes of vehicles, however, often the jostle to be ahead of the merging vehicle causes frustration or a tailgating vehicle decides that there is space enough for two vehicles to squeeze in – oddly this seems to be more apparent in slow-moving, congested traffic.
Here are a few Tarmac Top Tips – When merging into another lane, you must give way to anyone that’s in the lane you’re moving into and it’s important that you indicate for a reasonable amount of time to warn other people that you intend to cross into their lane – seems pretty easy (mirror, signal, manoeuvre).
Lane changes and zip merges may look similar, but are not. If you have to cross a white line (a lane change), give way to all traffic in the lane you’re about to enter. If the white line ends before the lanes merge (a zip merge), give way to any car that’s in front of you.
If you’re about to enter a motorway, wait for a safe gap, and if you are already on the motorway, don’t be a d%%k, give oncoming vehicles space to enter – after all, that oncoming vehicle could be you next time.
Be sure to match the legal speed of the road you’re merging into. Strolling onto a 100 km/h motorway doing 40 km/h isn’t just dangerous for you, but it’s dangerous for those travelling on the freeway too. Oh and always check your mirrors and blind spots before merging.
Conversely, avoid stopping in the merging lane, particularly when entering motorways. If you stop, you’ll lose speed and it’ll be difficult to find a gap large enough for you to gain momentum.
When leaving a motorway or road with an off ramp or separate turning lane, don’t slow down until you’ve entered that lane – they’re designed to enter at the speed limit.
Never merge into another lane by crossing a solid line or where this is a painted traffic island.
It’s important to take care when merging, don’t make it a drag race (ahem), watch what is happening around you, avoid sudden lane swerving and be aware of the road rules to stay as safe as possible on the road.
If you need more help, grab a jacket or coat and pull the zipper up and down, keep doing this until you figure out what MERGE LIKE A ZIP means!