Zipper Merge Leads To Road Rage Incident On I-196
The zipper merge is something we in West Michigan have mixed feelings about, as in we hate having to do it. But it's not worth violence.
Lakeshore Trip Turns Bad For West Michigan Family
The zipper merge one lane squeeze along the Ford Freeway (I-196) from Zeeland to Grandville is the source of a lot of discontentment among West Michigan drivers, but as tempers soar, it's probably a good idea to take a breath before reacting.
One West Michigan family say they were tailgated for miles after squeezing into the zipper merge zone while returning from a beach trip.
A one lane squeeze causes most drivers to form a one lane line leading up to it, but MDOT has long recommended that two lanes form up to the squeeze and from there, cars alternate access to form a 'zipper'.
It was this second lane that caused a confrontation for the David Stoffer family.
The Lanes Narrowed, And So Did the Mind Of A Driver
Signs leading up to the squeeze tell drivers to form two lanes, so Stoffer did, and this cheesed off a driver in the right lane, setting off a confrontation that lasted for miles.
“It seemed like he didn't want me to go in,” Stoffer told WZZM-13 News. “Essentially I got in, and then he started honking the horn and flipping me off. This guy was very angry.”
After that exchange, Stoffer said that the driver tailgated him at a close distance for miles. “This guy seems dangerous,” Stoffer said. “He clearly wanted some sort of confrontation.”
Which unnerved Stoffer, as his family, including a pregnant wife were in the vehicle with him.
In Chicago, Zipper Merges Are Common And More Efficient, But Here, Not So Much
Zipper mergers have long been a point of contention in West Michigan, where the tradition is to form an orderly single lane sometimes miles before the squeeze.
While this seems like accurate pre-planning to most, experts say it actually bogs down traffic even more.
Two lanes is the way to go, but when you've been suffering in the right lane for miles, there is reluctance to let zipper mergers in.
Several close to violent incidents have been reported since this year's construction season began.
The Two Lane Merge Is Correct, But Old Habits Die Hard
"Human behavior is very difficult to engineer for," John Richard, MDOT spokesperson explained. "The number one safety feature in any vehicle is the driver."
“I get that it's annoying having people merge… But we're both on the road together trying to get through this construction,” Stoffer said.
Now, in addition to just orange barrels causing warm weather headaches in Michigan, we have road rage to boot.
Let's everyone just calm down a bit, shall we?