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Pennsylvania's construction zone merging puts many at risk

Now that the summer is here, more roads are starting to get slower thanks to the amount of construction zones they are placing on the major highways. This means traffic is arguably at its worst during the hottest season of the year, and many drivers will put others in danger through reckless actions to evade it or pure road rage.

One of the biggest problems that most construction zones face this summer is how drivers will merge into the proper lanes. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has recently recognized that many impatient drivers are making this process a lot harder than it needs to be with how well they handle zipper merges. Drivers who don’t know how this system works could potentially injure other motorists and construction workers in the vicinity.

How the zipper merge works

When drivers see signs about an upcoming construction zone ahead, the first instinct for many of them is to merge into the drivable lane as soon as they can. However, it is not illegal for them to drive up to the area where the lane ends and then transfer into the other one. It is called the “zipper merge” because the way traffic from one lane merges into the other smoothly is similar to that of a zipper.

PennDOT actively encourages drivers to use this method because not using both lanes can significantly slow down traffic. Attempting to block the open lane to prevent any other drivers from passing is illegal and could result in a ticket and additional charges.

What’s the problem?

Even though the zipper merge is perfectly legal and encouraged on busy days, many Pennsylvania drivers try to merge into the drivable lane early and get angry at those who wait longer to merge.

Since those who go in the center lane early hold traffic back so much, the people near the merging point are hesitant to let those in the other lane in after waiting so long to get to that area. If traffic starts backing up on the other lane, then they are afraid that more than one driver may try take advantage of their brief pause.

These conflicts result in plenty of accidents fueled by impatience and road rage. Improper merging not only endangers other drivers between the two lanes, but also construction workers that are operating nearby. As more construction zones start popping up and brings these incidents back to the forefront, it is important for drivers and construction zone workers to know where they can find legal assistance to help them with a motor vehicle accident.

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