In my conversation with Dr. Bill Van Tassel, AAA Driver training project manager, for me Opinions on zip merging, The theme of “co-driving” appears again and again. Zipper merging is a situation where cooperation between drivers is critical. Give the driver space to merge and make eye contact if possible. Wave them in or blink from your headlights to let them know that it is safe to move from in front of you. Be polite. Hell, maybe even a smile (I know I have to ask a lot in stop-and-go traffic).

However, once you get rid of the traffic jam, cooperative driving will not stop. I asked Dr. Van Tassel if people could use other cooperative driving habits to make everyone’s roads calmer and safer.

As an exercise, here are some other collaborative driving techniques that you can use to create the atmosphere of zip merging:

“Polite change”

Here, if someone tries to merge into the highway, pay attention to them first. Then, if you have enough space and grace to do so, please move to the next lane to give that car room to merge into the highway. The incoming traffic from the ramp does not always match the speed and spatial flow of expressway traffic. Of course, it is usually up to them to give way, but if you can let them in, things will be smoother and safer.

This kind of courteous lane change is something I have been practicing since I can remember, but I have never heard of its name, and it is even described as something a driver should do. It feels like second nature, but it may not be everyone’s situation. As with any other merger, all of this is to give people space, and space equals security. Now that I know this is an actual exercise, I hope I will pay more attention to other drivers entering the highway and make sure to give them the space they need to join my happy cruise.

‘Netherlands Range’

When you park parallel to the road, do not open the driver’s door with your left hand, but reach out and grab the handle with your right hand. It is called the “Dutch Scope”. This will help remind you to check back to see if anyone—especially cyclists—may be cruising on the road without realizing that you are about to open a door to enter their path.

Even knowing this situation and its “Dutch-wide” mitigation techniques, it is difficult for me to remember. Dr. Van Tassel told me that some people have wrapped a pipe cleaner on their door handles as a reminder, which I think is very smart.

Move for faster drivers

I think we are finally starting to use it as a driving culture. Except for overtaking, keep to the right. Yes, even if you have already broken the speed limit. If anyone wants to break it further, let them.

In many places, such as my hometown of Michigan, this is also the law. I never like to see people pull over, but when the pigs in the left lane turn on these lights, I don’t feel so bad.

And, because it needs to be repeated, “zip merge”

If you don’t want to read My whole sermon on zip mergeOr delay the merger, here are what you should and shouldn’t do, directly from AAA, which teaches zipper mergers in its driver education program:


  • Stay in any lane you are in until the merge point.
  • Take turns to merge, like the teeth of a zipper.
    • One car in the left lane, one car in the right lane, one car in the left lane, and so on.
    • Alternating like this makes everyone’s journey smoother.
  • If you are in a lane that is about to end, please keep the same speed in the other lane before reaching the meeting point.
    • Driving towards the meeting point at a higher speed will make you appear greedy and aggressive in front of other road users.
    • If this happens, they may not give you room to merge in to keep traffic flowing smoothly.


  • Don’t merge from the lane that is about to end prematurely-wait until the merge point.
  • Don’t become a “lane shark” by blocking two lanes to punish what appears to be “cheating”-zip merging is not cheating; everyone is faster!
  • Do not follow the vehicle ahead. You only need to slow down at the merge point, which will cause a chain reaction where the vehicle must always slow down and return to the line.

AAA also recommends following the rules of the road:

  • Make sure there is enough space in front of your vehicle (just like when you are driving).
  • Either way, stay calm-anyway, merging into one lane will slow down your progress slightly.
  • The successful use of zip merging requires cooperation with other road users.
  • Don’t worry if another driver doesn’t do it properly-they may not have heard of zip merge.

This is a useful video from Minnesota point:

Practice awareness. Practice cooperative driving. We will all be safer and happier because of this.

Are there other cooperative driving skills? Delete them in the comments.

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