Illinois State Police want to remind drivers how to correctly zip merge

Local News

PEORIA, Ill.–Illinois State Police want to remind drivers how to properly merge when there is a construction zone. 

A lot of drivers get frustrated when seeing cars pass in the other lane while there is backed up traffic in their own lane, but for safety purposes and to decrease the congestion of the traffic, Illinois State Police say that is actually the correct way to merge.

Sgt. Tony Halsey of the Illinois State Police says that the longer the traffic is backed up, the higher the risk of rear-end crashes.

He also says while drivers think they have to get over right away when they see road construction signs ahead, they actually have more time than they think.

“Motorists think when the sign says ‘get over,’ ‘traffic flow ahead,’ ‘merging in x amount of miles ahead,’ that soon as they see that sign they need to get over.  That’s just warning and preparing them that the construction zone is coming up to get over,” said Sgt. Tony Halsey.

“You’re gonna see a lot of backed up traffic and it says ‘road construction 3 miles ahead.’  Motorists think when they see that sign that says ‘road construction 3 miles ahead’ or however many miles ahead that they need to get over in that lane.  We ask and recommend that they stay in both lanes, and when they get closer to the construction zone within a quarter mile, then start getting over and merging.  That’s called zip merging,” said Sgt. Halsey.

“One car to the left, and a car to the right. And then just alternate back and forth.  If you start getting over in the left lane and construction starts getting backed up and it’s already 3 miles away then you’re backed up 4 or 5 miles, traffic is gonna continue to back up instead of using both lanes.  Some motorists won’t like that, semi drivers won’t like that, it makes motorists unhappy, you may get some road rage, but for traffic patterns and for engineering and safety, it’s much easier to go that route and stay in both lanes, then merge towards the end,” Sgt. Halsey said.

Halsey says knowing how to correctly zip merge is a matter of safety for motorists.

“You get in both lanes, you might be going 5 to 10 miles per hour but you’re gonna get through that construction zone much faster and much safer and then traffic’s not gonna be backed up as long. The longer the distance traffic is backed up, the possibility of a crash increases.  People aren’t paying attention, they’re getting too close, they’re paying attention to everything else, and that’s when the rear end crashes happen,” said Sgt. Halsey. 

And while some motorists may not like seeing other cars pass them in the other lane, that keeping cars in both lanes will lessen crashes and keep traffic moving a little more smoothly.

“We just ask to stay in both lanes, go with the flow of traffic, when you get closer to the zone, alternate every other one.  We don’t want motorists to block the right lane or the right lane to prevent people from going by because that just causes traffic to back up even more.”

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