I wrote in the my last post about the new Illinois traffic laws that went into effect at the beginning of the year. One of those new laws is the inclusion into the Illinois rules of the is is known as the zipper merge. The Illinois Rules of Road handbook for student drivers will now include an explanation of a zipper merge.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”), a zipper merge is when there is a lane closure due to construction or a traffic accident, drivers are to fill in both lanes all the way up to the merge point, at which point motorists will then have to take turns merging into the single lane. Traffic experts believe that is the quickest way to get through construction sites and entrances on highways during busy season. According to a 2013 Minnesota study, using the zipper merge reduces the length of traffic backups by as much as 40%, reduces congestion, creates a sense of fairness with everyone moving at the same speed, and reduces road rage.
This is the opposite of how most drivers have been operating for years. Typically, most drivers will get in line the lane that remains open after the merge. The challenge for the state is re-training drivers that the most efficient and safe way to drive is to fill both lanes. That is why all new drivers are learning this new method in the Rules of the Road handbook.
It will be interesting to see if motorists follow this new method as we see road construction all over the Chicago area during the spring and summer. I will also be looking to see if IDOT includes specific signage at construction sites that indicates to drivers that both lanes are available and should be used up until the merge point.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.