Here is your annual reminder that the zipper merge SSSSUUUUCCCCCKKKKSSSSS. Our very own @aaronrenz posted an article with the same sentiment last summer. He took the “Firm, but Minnesota Nice” approach. That obviously didn’t stick or resonate with the public, so we’re trying it again. This time, a little more straightforward.
The whole reason behind this blog is a twitter post (above) that’s been hot in the streets. The video (that’s been shared endlessly by everyone in the state) shows an accident caused during a zipper merge in a fit of rage. This person thought it was necessary to swerve into someone using the full length of the left lane rather than merging early with the bulk of the traffic. Obviously the truck is in the wrong and this should end in a court proceeding. WITH THAT BEING SAID, anyone who thinks that the zipper merge will EVER work seamlessly is a MORON.
A common stance that people like to take is “if everyone merged early, then traffic would back up forever”. This is both right and wrong. If you’re following the rules laid out in your driving safety course, there is MORE than enough space between you and the car in front of you for another one to fit. People forget that this happens at every single on-ramp without issue. Additionally, if the length of vehicles is doubled, but everyone is continuing to move at the same speed, isn’t that better than having the length be cut in half, but going at a snail’s pace? The issue is that not everyone can agree on the same approach.
The Solution to The Zipper Merge (and Traffic In General)
As long as humans exist behind the wheel, fragile egos will continue be a factor on the road. Once Elon and the rest of the self-driving cars take over the globe, this problem goes away completely. Cars will be able to communicate with one another remotely, adjust speeds in unison, and eliminate almost every form of traffic. No “rubber band” or “accordion” effect to deal with on the highways or at lights. Just supremely efficient travel for everyone.
Now, I’m a person who can see what COULD happen, but also knows what WILL happen. The government (at least the US Government) will never be able to implement a requirement that all vehicles be self-driving. Not while anyone on this planet is alive. The cost to purchase and maintain those types of cars is far too high for the middle and lower class people. As long as there is ONE car being operated manually, there will always be traffic and accidents like the one in the Zipper Merge video.
It is what it is
Let me be very, VERY clear on my stance. The Zipper Merge is one of the worst things ever implemented since the invention of the automobile. Unfortunately, there just isn’t a more viable solution. Sometimes, there are things in life you must accept as being awful and simply have to deal with. Every time you want those delightful frozen foods from Trader Joe’s, you KNOW you’re going to have to deal with a HORRENDOUS and haphazard parking lot. You may delay your trip or lament it the entire way there, but you’ll still go all the same.
The general public is littered with a slew of both bad people and bad drivers and both of these are going to make the traffic worse. Thinking that this is just a Minnesota problem is insane. Yes, many of us are passive aggressive by nature compared to other parts of the country. As someone who’s driven from coast to coast and Canada to Mexico, I can tell you that being entirely passive or entirely aggressive in your driving style doesn’t change the result. The same problems come up, just in a different way.
If you’re getting on the road during the summer, you are going to have to deal with traffic. Odds are pretty good it’s caused by construction which probably means it’s from a zipper merge too. Those are just facts of life. Deal with it.
I’ve been hit by cars three times, which is an indication of how stubborn I am.
I write about everything across the board, but focus on Hockey and the pain that is Minnesota sports.
Argue with me on Twitter: @venividiveech