Social Question

GloPro's avatar

If there is a lane closure up ahead, how far should you continue on in that lane before merging with the other?

Asked by GloPro (8210 points ) 3 months ago from iPhone

In construction zones when a lane closure is ahead and traffic is moving moderately slowly, how far back is it appropriate to merge? Or do you take advantage of the lane right up until the closure and then try to slip in? Do you block or swerve to prevent people from passing you? Do you let people in?

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80 Answers

Mariah's avatar

Ughhh don’t be the douche who tries to sneak in at the last minute. The warning signs are there so you can merge at the next availability.

Dutchess_III's avatar

IMO you should move over as soon as possible. Then keep an eye out for assholes who want to wait till the last screaming minute and leave a big space so they can move into it as soon as they realize it isn’t a joke. It’s not what I want to do. I’d rather hit them with my car, but at those speeds, or any speed the prudent thing is to play it safe.

ibstubro's avatar

I don’t move over with the first sign, because then I feel too much like a lemming. I like to see what’s up ahead and you can’t do that from the middle lane. But I’m not a jerk about it, either, and will usually take advantage or the first really large opportunity I get. I will then offer to let people in for the next 2–3 minutes, then you ain’t gettin in on my watch.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Some people honestly, literally don’t see the signs. My husband would be one of those. He used to never read the signs. I remember one memorable time we were on the southbound 3 lanes of a 6 lane highway. He was in the far right lane. There were no less than 3 signs warning that the lane ended, it was an exit only lane and they even drew a picture for him. I could tell he missed them all. He said something about “I’m not sure how far it is to such and such.”
I said, “Well, the point is moot because you’re going to be exiting in a second.”
He said, “I’m not going to be exit…..OH SHIT!” And he quickly moved into the what-was-now the far right lane of a 4 lane highway. And that is how highway wrecks happen.
He’s gotten quite a bit better about reading signs since then, along with my regular back seat driving tips.
The other day we were coming back from Wichita. We were on a 2 lane. The guy we were coming up on was driving a bit erratically, actually crossing the center line every so often. My husband showed no reaction, just continue to gain on him at the same speed.
I said, “Well, that guy is a wreck waiting to happen. Let’s get right up on him so we’ll have front row seats when it happens!”
I think my husband said something even more snarky to me, may have even included a curse word, but he did back off.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

With an 82foot transport truck I move over as soon as I can.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 When I see a truck I immediately give them room.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe And we truckers thank you for it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Hey I’ve watched the idiots cut trucks off. Plus you guys always stop when I’m crossing the street. The hardest thing to stop, but you do. I’ll always cut truckers some slack

jaytkay's avatar

Move right into that empty lane!

The fastest way to get traffic through a chokepoint is like a zipper – use BOTH lanes until the end and then take turns merging.

A smart road project manager will post signs saying “Use Both Lanes”.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I was merging one time with my Z-28. The other guy in the other lane said his car is way nicer than your’s. Go for it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I have a construction zone phobia, which causes me to spin a 180 and lickitty split outta thare!

SavoirFaire's avatar

Psychologically annoying as many people find it, @jaytkay is completely right. A civil engineer I used to work with explained to me that the whole system is designed on the assumption that people will try to get as far forward as they can rather than waiting in a line while another lane is open. It is expected that a zipper merge will occur at or near the lane closure. So the “asshole” in the free lane is actually the only one doing what the efficiency experts assumed everyone would do.

ibstubro's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe “Shitty car right-of-way”?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I hit the brakes. I wasn’t fighting him.

ibstubro's avatar

No, @SavoirFaire, I think what @jaytkay is saying it that they are wrong for squeezing it to one lane before the merge. It there is a traffic sign that says “Lane Closure, Merge Right—>”, you have some obligation to move right before hand.

“A smart road project manager will post signs saying “Use Both Lanes”.”

As in, “Lane Closure Ahead. Use Both Lanes, Zipper (take turns) In.” I’ve seen similar ‘zipper’ warnings.

ibstubro's avatar

There was one time I played chicken with a guy at an intersection, @Adirondackwannabe, here in town, and I won. He had his female with him and when he pulled up to the next intersection, he commenced to cussing me royally. I never even looked his way, just powered the window up. Face. Lost. Twice.

jaytkay's avatar

@ibstubro No, “Lane Closure, Merge Right” is not what I want.

It’s more like “Lane Closure – Left and Right Merge Together”

It moves more cars through the choke point.

kritiper's avatar

Merge into the other lane immediately.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I race down the open lane which has been freed up to me by everyone else merging too soon. There is always going to be an opening for me near the end of my lane as traffic in the next lane over stops and starts.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Merge at the next safe opportunity after you notice the sign. People will simply not let you in near the forced merge, and the result is angry drivers on both sides.

GloPro's avatar

@dappled_leaves Why do people refuse to let a car in?

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@GloPro when people stop to let the idiots in that should merged awhile it backs up traffic for miles and miles.

GloPro's avatar

I believe it’s all psychological. I get in line at a reasonable opportunity, but I don’t challenge or try to control those that utilize the open lane. It isn’t closed yet, and trying to obstruct other drivers causes accidents. It also does not bother me if a motorcycle rides all the way up front, passing everybody.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

GA @GloPro. All the others are exhibiting what we like to call road rage.

jca's avatar

Excellent question! I asked it (or something similar) a few years ago – will look for it later and link it. There was a NY Times article on traffic around that time, and traffic studies showed that it’s more efficient for all the lanes to be used until the merge occurs, meaning everyone should continue in their lanes as long as possible. Will look for that later, and link it too.

ibstubro's avatar

Yup, @jaytkay. I was agreeing with you. Keeping both lanes open and merging every-other only makes sense.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@ibstubro If you’re agreeing with @jaytkay, then you’re also agreeing with me. We were saying the exact same thing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Dan_Lyons If there is an open lane at the end it’s because someone saw you coming and made one for you. Someone like me. Who, as I said, would rather hit you. Would rather, actually, keep the opening closed and watch you slam on your brakes and then watch you sit there helplessly for 20 minutes until some fool takes pity on you and lets you in.

GloPro's avatar

^^^ Wow. That’s pretty angry over someone using an open lane in the road. At least you take pity and share the road in the end.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It makes me angry because it’s dangerous. People who endanger my life, and the lives of people I love, make me angry.
I don’t share the road “in the end.” As soon as some fool passes me in a lane that will be closing I immediately make room for them to move in. They may take advantage of it at that point, or continue passing others who don’t make room, and that’s when it become dangerous.

GloPro's avatar

Why is it dangerous? The lane is still open, the DOT has stated that the zipper merge is the preferred method. I agree that if the left lane is at a dead stop and a car goes flying down the right lane it could be dangerous, but usually that’s because someone in the left lane wants to control the flow and pulls halfway into the open lane, obstructing legal traffic. It would be the fault of the person splitting lanes should there be an accident, legally.

I believe it is herd mentality for everyone to get into the left lane and cause a bottleneck, which is WAY more dangerous than zipper merging. However, the psychology of this issue is for those stuck in traffic to get pissed off at someone doing nothing illegal or wrong because they haven’t fallen in line. Not letting someone in, just one car that takes up only a few meters of space, is also psychologically driven.

If I’m in the left lane of crawling traffic I will always let others in. And I don’t feel that makes me a fool. I’m not an enforcer or controller, either. Usually multiple cars over the space of the construction. It’s no skin off of my nose, and doesn’t get me all worked up inside over nothing. I sit in traffic and center my chi. What else are you going to do? Why not choose a better attitude and go with the flow.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think we have two different scenarios in our heads. In mine, no one is crawling. No lane is at a dead stop. If they were I’d let people in, no problem.
Lets say, however, we’re on a 70 mph freeway and the left lane is closing ahead. Someone like @Dan_Lyons chooses to pass everyone, doing 80, and wait until the last screaming second to move over….and no one has left them room to to so. I’ve seen it happen, more than once. The person moves to the right anyway, forcing others out of their lane, even off the road, or forcing people to slam on their brakes. That is dangerous.

GloPro's avatar

Hmmm, in my scenario I pictured people conforming a little better than 80mph to the construction zone speed limit.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I went through a construction zone a bit ago and I truck passed me going 80 MPH on the inside of a curve.

Dutchess_III's avatar

There are a lot of different reasons lanes end.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My ex and I were stopped at a construction zone. Dude was standing in the street holding up a stop sign. Some guy blew past all the stopped cars. Dude saw him coming and starting waving the sign. They guy hit the sign and kept on going.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I don’t know about other states, but Colorado will double any fines in a construction area, including speeding.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Most places do, I think.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Actually, @Dutchess_III most of the times the opening available near the end of the lane being closed is because traffic started moving and there always seems to be a car either stalled, or getting ready to go and thus has left more than enough space for me to merge back in.
I don’t do this at a reckless speed, merely a bit faster than the cars which are stopped or barely moving.
Your road rage while you are sitting at the keyboard of your computer is impressive, and possibly worthy of a trip to a therapist.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I have witnessed the idiots speeding down the lane that is closed just to come to a complete stop, and then expect someone in the open lane to let them in,even though there has been lane closure and merge signs for the last 10 kilometres but they still roar down to the end and then try to get in which backs up traffic for miles and miles, that is why the last five hundred yards or so we trucks will drive dead center so they can’t do that, or if there are 2 of us we will drive side by side to the end, and you won’t believe by doing that keeps traffic moving instead of a stop and go , by people letting the idiots back in.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I don’t know where all you people are living where you see perfect zipper merges. Sure, that is the ideal. But what happens in reality, pretty much every time I encounter this, is that most people keep to the lane that’s open, trying to merge early, and a couple of people drive fast through the open lane, or on the shoulder, trying to get past every car before having to merge. Then most people want to punish that behaviour by not letting the guy get in. Anger and honking ensue.

Personally, I don’t care what people do in an open lane. Duh, it’s an open lane! Most problems occur when there is game playing and folks trying to keep someone from merging. I don’t like it, but it’s ridiculously common, to the point that I try to merge as early as possible, so that I’ll be allowed to merge. I always let people merge in front of me, whether it’s nearing construction or on an open highway – that just keeps everyone safer. But that does not seem to be the behaviour I see in others, especially close to a forced merge – it seems to me the closer you get to the merge, the harder it is for someone to get in.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wasn’t even thinking of construction areas, just roads ending in general. Construction is a whole different story. You need to slow down and really be considerate of others, even when they’re acting like assholes.

When I was quite a bit younger I was riding with a friend. We were on a 4 lane, 65 mph zone. There was a girl on our left. We came upon a sign that said her lane was ending. She sped up to merge in ahead of us…and my girlfriend snarled “You’re not going to pass me!” and sped up too. We were flying and the end of her lane was rushing down on her. I started yelling “Let her in! Let her in! Where do you expect her to go???” My girlfriend backed off at that point and let her in. Yes, stupid people make me angry because they kill people.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@dappled_leaves Good post. Yeah…some people seem to take others trying to merge as some sort of challenge or something. That’s when wrecks happen. That’s why I move over ASAP too, so I don’t find myself at the end with suddenly no place to go.

GloPro's avatar

@dappled_leaves I didn’t say that the ideal zipper merge is what happens, but it would be nice. It’s so much smoother. Your version is pretty spot on.

@SQUEEKY2 It is my opinion that what backs up traffic for miles is everyone piling into the left lane 10 kilometers before the right lane actually closes.

@Dutchess_III the details in the OP specifically say construction zones and traffic moving moderately slowly. People that don’t allow others entering a freeway room to merge are just dicks, plain and simple.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Right….I missed the construction part. MY BAD!

Too many people view driving as a competition. Hubs used to be like that, but subconsciously. He raced for many, many years and he’d do stuff to interfere with other drivers without even thinking about it, like closing the gap between him and the car in front of him so the car on the left couldn’t move in. I don’t think he even realized he was doing it. He wasn’t deliberately being a jerk, it was just a bad habit from years of racing. He’s gotten better, although I still have to remind him that there is NO reason to get up on someone if you don’t intend to pass. He’s like, “That guy is ahead of me! Must catch up!” But he’s getting better.

GloPro's avatar

I always drive like a bat out of hell until I’m in front, so I get it. I pass the second I can on a two lane road, even if I’m comfortable with the speed we’re traveling. I don’t like following anybody or being a part of a pack.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I keep a large bubble of space around me too, as much as I can. Don’t have much control over what’s behind me.

jaytkay's avatar

@dappled_leaves I don’t know where all you people are living where you see perfect zipper merges.

It only happens if they post signs saying Use Both Lanes.

I think I’ve seen that twice.

Dutchess_III's avatar

—I’m not even sure what you guys are talking about…what is a zipper merge?

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: It’s where one car from one lane goes in and then the car behind from the other lane goes in – like closing of a zipper.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wait…how many lanes are there to begin with with before the one ends?

GloPro's avatar

If you’ve ever seen a two lane on-ramp monitored by a stoplight in a bigger city. Left lane one car, right lane one car, left lane one car, and so on. That’s a monitored zipper merge. It would be ideal if people utilized this method naturally instead of go all Agro.
I’ve seen it in parking lots after concerts or shows, and after toll booths. It is possible to effectively implement if people would be cooperative instead of competitive.

jca's avatar

3 lanes merging into 1.

jca's avatar

Or two lanes merging into 1.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You mean staggering them? Sure. That would be best. If people would cooperate.

ibstubro's avatar

I think there is a failure to communicate, in that I have seen signs directing zippering traffic, but they are few and far between. It appears to me that a majority of people feel like they queue up in the lane they will ultimately need to be in, then they have right-of-way.

When you have a complicated double-zipper merge on an interstate (two on-ramp lanes merging to one then merging into the 3–4 lane traffic flow) infrequent users just don’t intuit that. If the highway department is squeezing 2–3 lanes down to one, there is necessarily going to me slow traffic flow – why not take that time to educate people on what they expect?

jca's avatar

@ibstubro: I find when there are cops there, people tend to be more respectful of letting others in. At least in the area I live in. Otherwise, it’s luck or who is more aggressive that wins out.

ibstubro's avatar

Honestly, I think there’s a huge hole in the knowledge of what’s expected, @jca.

Look at almost any dual lane on-ramp on an interstate, and the lane (typically left) that is in line to merge conveniently will fill all the way up before the other lane starts to fill. I think people are instinctively believing that the right lane yields to the left.

At least this is true in my area of the Midwest where the Metro areas are surrounded by cornfields and there is heavy traffic on the interstate from rural areas. I was in St. Louis this week, and failed at the merge I describe above.

All these scenarios are due to bottlenecked traffic. Why not use that stop-time to educate?

dappled_leaves's avatar

I find merges on highways much easier than merges where there is construction. In construction, people in the through-line know that the worst an incoming car will suffer is having to wait… and so they make them suffer. But a person merging onto a highway needs to accelerate to do that – cutting off such a person is dangerous to everyone, and only complete morons don’t get that. Usually, I see people move out of the right-hand lane to make room for those incoming vehicles.

jca's avatar

What I think happens is that when there’s construction or an accident, people seem to have the attitude that they will stay in the lane as long as possible, and as soon as they merge, anybody else can get behind them. It’s like many people’s attitude toward immigration – “my relatives came from somewhere else, now shut the door (whew, I’m glad my relatives got in!)”

Dutchess_III's avatar

What I love is when people seem to have NO IDEA their lane is ending and just mindlessly follow the white line at the end and “merge,” probably not even realizing they’ve changed lanes. I always expect someone to do that and leave them plenty of room to do it, and more often than not, that’s exactly what they do, without even checking their mirrors.

Reminds me of my batty Uncle Bert. My daughter, who was 13 at the time, was riding with him on a busy freeway in the Seattle area. He did just that, mindlessly following the line when he suddenly found himself on an exit ramp. He yelled at my daughter, asking why she didn’t SAY something, like it was her fault! Duh. My daughter had no idea where they were going!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@ibstubro I agree with you about the lack of knowledge. Most driver’s education courses focus on safety and more or less skip the rules of the road. And in most places, you don’t even need to go through driver’s ed if you are over 18. If I had my way, it would be part of everyone’s high school education, and it would teach pedestrian and biking rules alongside motor vehicle rules.

ibstubro's avatar

Thanks, @SavoirFaire. I agree with you teaching the rules of the road in HS. I would increase the signage, and make the signs part of the course. Being in a rural area, crap like traffic circles and double-zipper merges are infrequent and it would be nice to have forewarning and a reminder of the expectations. I’ve always enjoyed driving in the city, but I’m fore ever encountering things that are new to me, old hat to the locals.

I never thought stressing ”The pedestrian always has the right of way.” was particularly helpful. I realize that in vehicle/pedestrian conflicts the pedestrian necessarily suffers most, but too many people take it as an empowerment to risky behavior.

GloPro's avatar

Driver’s Ed was the first budget cut. I remember having it in high school. Now in most places you pay a company to get a driver’s ed class.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@ibstubro That’s right. Working at a university, I’ve seen plenty of students just walk off a curb into traffic because they figure everyone will stop for them. And of course, traffic usually does stop for them when they’re on campus. But then they take that attitude off campus and get into trouble. I figure that everyone on the road—pedestrians, bikers, and drivers—needs to know not just what they’re supposed to do, but what other people on the road are supposed to do.

jca's avatar

It’s also a matter of courtesy and drivers not having a “me first” attitude.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I remember when I was young seeing a Walt Disney short featuring Goofy. As a driver he was completely inconsiderate of pedestrians and other drivers. The second he exited his vehicle he became the most inconsiderate pedestrian in town.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That craziness with the pedestrians is really getting outrageous. People will just start walking across a parking lot, not even bothering to look out for cars. I had a fb friend who went on a rant because some lady didn’t stop for her. Her rant was centered around “Pedestrians have the right of way.” Common sense will tell you to give the right of way to a car! And more often than not, a driver will stop for you and wave you on through. Most people are polite like that.

GloPro's avatar

At crosswalks and stoplights pedestrians do have the right of way. That being said, I’m smart enough to make sure drivers are paying attention.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Of course they do. But some feel they have the right of way in ALL situations. That’s a stupid way to feel.

jca's avatar

I work in a fairly large city and of course pedestrians have right of way, but they seem to just step off curbs without looking. What that means is that when you’re driving, you not only have to look at the street in front of you, but you have to look at the sidewalks nearby for anyone who may be on the verge of walking right in front of your car.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That happens here, too, in my small town. They’re so smug with their version of “right of way,” that they just don’t pay any attention. People who are old enough to drive, who knows how distracted a driver can be sometimes, are especially stupid to do that. But it seems to have been happening more and more, especially in the last 3 years.

ibstubro's avatar

From @Dutchess_III link (in case you’re anti-link) Zipper merge ” ...goes against everything we’ve learned about driving etiquette, which traditionally tells us to get into the continuing lane ASAP. Compounding that is a lack of consistency among states. While states like Minnesota, Illinois, Colorado, Washington and Pennsylvania use, or have used, the zipper merge, California, for example, does not.”

Education is necessary, and I don’t mean the straight-line squiggly-line with dots between graphic.

ibstubro's avatar

I blame the proliferation of ‘big box stores’ for the pedestrian rudeness. Huge lots, multiple entrances and crawling traffic.

ibstubro's avatar

I looked this for @Dan_Lyons.
We’ll pretend we don’t see the 1952 copyright.

Dutchess_III's avatar

There are so many things that drivers need to be educated on. I don’t think learning the zipper merge is anywhere near #1.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III Nobody thinks it should be number one. The question is just whether it should be on the list.

ibstubro's avatar

Drivers Education will one day have universal driving simulators, and under “Urban Driving”, the zipper merge will probably rank pretty high.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wish they had them in insurance offices. If you take the simulator you get a discount on your insurance.

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