Merge like a (broken) zip?

It seems to me and many people I talk to, there are many broken zips in our district. Not zips of the clothing-kind but rather of the motoring-kind.

In both cases, the principal remains the same -to zip correctly, both sides must line up correctly, and then ONE by ONE smoothly move into place.

On the road, it may be more challenging because there are different interpretations for this rule. In many cases, it may be about a selfish attitude that “I just have to be in front.” This approach does not help traffic to flow smoothly.

So what is the official stand on this? Firstly, the pictures on these signs may unknowingly contribute to misinterpretation. There are six signs that relates to two lanes merging into one, permanent warning signs PW-43 left, PW-43 right and PW-43.1 and temporary warning signs TW-13 left, TW-13 right and TW-13.1.

Lane narrow signs

The fact that two of these signs have a straight leg does not actually mean that drivers on the straight leg have the right of way… ok did this sink in?

The purpose of these signs is to display the layout of the lanes to drivers and to inform them that the two current lanes merge into one lane. It warns drivers to take action to get ready to MERGE LIKE A ZIP.

Who goes first? The vehicle that is ahead of other vehicles is the one that has the right to merge first, regardless of it being in the left- or the right hand lane.

If you disagree, go to

All drivers must signal their intentions well in advance (at least 3 seconds BEFORE they move) that they are about to move in from the left or from the right.

There may be situations where it may be more complicated.

One example is when a driver is in the process of overtaking and going faster than the vehicles on the left. Be aware that you may have to brake to slow down and fall in behind the vehicle that is still ahead in the queue when the road narrows.

The rest must follow by signalling first, then moving in ONE left ONE right or vice versa, depending on the situation.

Safer Journeys!

Daniel NaudéSouth Canterbury Road Safety Coordinator