I AM ONE OF THEM. I AM A BAD MERGER.
I have aggressively straddled two lanes with my car in order to block late merges in construction zones. I get pissed when people fly by me in the other lane AFTER I've already merged.
I have shook my fist fiercely at people who refuse to merge with everyone else a 1/2 mile before the merge zone....those a*&holes!!!
LO AND BEHOLD. I was WRONG. And some people I met from California and Pennsylvania were laughing at me as they tried to explain that people in Minnesota and Wisconsin simply don't know how to merge. They blamed it on Minnesota nice....We see a sign that says the lane is going to end, and we move over immediately cuz it's the polite thing to do. RIGHT?
WRONG. I am changing my ways, henceforth, even though I know the early mergers are going to get pissed.
From the Minnesota Department of Transportation:
"ST. PAUL, Minn. — Fifteen percent of drivers admitted to straddling lanes in order to block late merges in construction zones, according to a recent study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
To address the more than 2,700 crashes and 18 fatalities occurring in highway construction zones last year, Mn/DOT commissioned a study to better understand the behaviors and attitudes that trigger driving decisions in merging situations as drivers enter a work zone.
'Our goal is to increase safety in work zones by reducing the confusion and frustration drivers often experience when merging,' said William Servatius, Mn/DOT's Office of Construction. 'Many times crashes occur due to aggressive driving, abrupt lane changes or sudden stops, so we want to help drivers make good choices while traveling through our work zones.'
In an attempt to minimize the problems discovered in the research, Mn/DOT also conducted a month-long field study on Highway 10 in Anoka to assess a new Dynamic Late Merge System, a traffic control strategy to improve merging at lane closures.
'The fully automated system using remote traffic microwave sensors and a Doppler radar provides instructions to drivers via changeable message signs on when to merge and how to merge according to the current state of traffic,' said Craig Mittelstadt, Mn/DOT's workzone safety specialist. 'For example, if traffic is heavy, the system will instruct motorists to use both lanes and take turns once they've reached the defined merge point just before the lane closure.'
This strategy often referred to as the 'zipper' improves traffic flow, reduces conflicts and hopefully will decrease the number of crashes when traffic demand exceeds the capacity of a single lane closure.
'Basically, we want drivers to know that under normal traffic speeds, they should try to merge early to avoid unsafe merging maneuvers; however, when traffic is congested, drivers should use both lanes all the way to the definite merge point,' said Servatius.
'We can't completely rid the roads from congestion in a workzone, but data from the study revealed this method shortened queue lengths by 35 percent and reduced lane changing conflicts,' said Mittelstadt. 'We also hope for a decline in crashes and aggressive driving behavior.'
Minnesota is one of the first states to use the Dynamic Late Merge System and plans are to continue this research in the upcoming construction season.
'People have been trying for years to research the proper way to merge, but there are so many factors to consider,' said Servatius. 'It's difficult to say what's the right way - instead we're looking for the best way.'
So if you see me flying by on the Lake Street bridge, early mergers, and you get IRRATIONALLY PISSED OFF believe me, I understand.