Is It Legal to ‘Last Minute Merge’ In a Michigan Construction Zone?
You see a sign that says “Lane Closed Merge Left”— what should you do? You’ve been given ample warning, so you should civilly indicate your intention by using your turn signal and safely merge into the left hand lane, whilst allowing others to merge in front of you. It’s called the Zipper Method. No that’s not from the Catholic Church, it’s the way the Michigan Department of Transportation recommends things be done.
The person in the vehicle ahead of you, usually a sporty little car like a BMW or a jacked-up pickup with rollbars and a decal of their zombie stick family eating your stick family, also sees the sign but continues to pass people in the right lane like it’s the final lap in the Daytona 500. And then, at the last possible moment and with only inches to spare, they merge into the left lane in front of you.
Your hands are now permanently attached to your steering wheel, you’re sweating like you just climbed 9 flights of stairs and you have nothing pleasant to say about the driver in front of you. But who, if anyone, is to blame for this moment of clammy hands?
According to the Michigan Department of Transportation “Zipper Merge” guidelines, traffic from both lanes should take turns moving into the open lane and come together like the tines of a zipper.
Let’s be honest with one another, this type of fairytale merging does not exist. It may be a Zipper Method, like the way an angry dad zips up his fanny pack after paying twenty dollars for a pop at Cedar Point. It will eventually get zipped, but not without perspiration, cussing and embarrassment.
I know the temptation to speed ahead of the car who appears to be piloted only by a pair of hands that look to be nine hundred fifty years old and traveling at the speed of smell, but do it safely and with ample time.
You may also feel the urge to preemptively cut off the speeding ball of fire that is trying to race ahead of you into that single lane just yards away, but let them in.
Basically the Zipper Merge Method is common sense (like not letting someone you love actually wear a fanny pack). We are all going to be in the same line anyway, so let’s get in line politely like we learned in elementary school, give one another some space in that line, get to where we’re going safely and wonder why everyone doesn’t drive like we do.