Why Jerk Drivers Who Merge at the Last Minute Are Actually More Efficient

iStock
iStock

Merging on the highway can be a fraught task. Most people do it the polite way: merging over into the lane as soon as possible, forming a polite line of people waiting to get off the highway or move out of a closed lane. But there’s always that one jerk who speeds ahead of the line of slowed traffic, merging into the lane at the last second possible and cutting ahead of the entire line of cautious drivers who merged a mile back. While we may resent those drivers, according to HowStuffWorks, this aggressive style of merging is actually the most efficient way to keep traffic moving.

The last-minute system, dubbed the “zipper merge,” suggests that all drivers wait until they’re almost at the fork in the road or start of the closed lane to merge over. Instead of creating a long line of cars at a standstill in the right lane, waiting until the last second maximizes road capacity, since cars are moving in both lanes. It also makes the road safer. Don’t believe it? Watch the principle at work in the animation below.

Traffic studies prove that the zipper merge is the most efficient way to keep a road moving. Instead of one lane of traffic whizzing by while the other lane slows down considerably, both lanes slow down slightly, and overall, the slowdown is more equitable across both lanes. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, it can reduce the length of backed up traffic by up to 40 percent.

But that assumes that every driver adopts the zipper merge. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to convince a whole society of drivers to suddenly change their behavior. Even if zipper mergers are technically correct, when the whole rest of the highway is operating under the belief that merging as soon as possible is the correct and polite way to go about dealing with a lane closure, that one guy merging at the last moment just looks like a jerk. The system only works if everyone plays by the same rules.

Some transportation departments have tried to encourage drivers to adopt the practice, putting up signs near road closures that ask people to “merge here,” nudging them to wait just a little longer before they get over.

Merging late may go against our very nature, however. Many people tend to “pre-crastinate,” according to one 2014 psychological study, trying to get a task out of the way as soon as possible even when doing so goes against our best interests. Penn State researchers found that when asked to complete the basic task of carrying buckets from one end of an alley to the other, people were willing to do more work rather than delay completing a basic task until the last second. Many participants opted to pick up a bucket closer to them, even when it meant they would have to carry the bucket farther, rather than waiting to pick up a bucket closer to their end goal.

So, it may be no surprise that the zipper merge hasn’t caught on, at least in the U.S. But at least now you can feel justified being that one last-minute merger.

[h/t HowStuffWorks]

This Ultra-Comfy Travel Onesie Has an Inflatable Hood and Neck Pillow

Onepiece
Onepiece

If you’re preparing to take a 10-hour flight, you’re probably going to reach for the comfiest outfit in your closet rather than the trendiest one. So, in an effort to design the “ultimate travel apparel,” Norwegian brand Onepiece has created a unisex line of Inflatable Travel Jumpsuits—otherwise known as onesies.

The outfit, spotted by Travel + Leisure, boasts over 15 airplane-friendly features that frequent travelers will appreciate. The hood inflates to form a cushion, and a built-in neck pillow also puffs up to provide some extra support. Use the “snooze cap” to shield your eyes, and if you really want to block out all the light, you can cover your face by zipping the hood down (there’s still plenty of breathing room). Finally, to prevent any awkward contact with your neighbor while you nod off, you can strap yourself into your seat by using the sleeping mask and adjustable head stabilizer.

Different features of the onesie
Onepiece

There are also plenty of pockets. One is large enough to fit a tablet or magazine, while double-zipped kangaroo pockets are designed to protect your valuables. The pants also sport cargo pockets, and additional velcro pockets inside the chest area of the onesie can be detached and placed in a tray while you go through airport security.

Perhaps most importantly, there’s a zippered “Rear Exit Solution” on the butt of the pants, so if you need to do your business, you won’t have to get half-naked to do so.

We get that most people probably stopped wearing onesies after their seventh birthday, but the fact that the shirt and bottoms are connected is actually pretty subtle. Check out the company’s Kickstarter video below to see it being modeled, and if you’re interested in sporting this look, you have until November 12 to back the project and secure your onesie for $149.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

The Best and Worst Airports, Airlines, and Routes to Fly on Thanksgiving

iStock.com/simonkr
iStock.com/simonkr

Traveling around the holidays is always stressful, but depending on where you're starting out and where you're headed, it could be particularly bad. Especially if you're flying out of Oakland, Dallas, or Chicago, according to new data compiled by Treetopia, an online retailer devoted to artificial Christmas trees and wreaths.

Treetopia crunched some numbers to discover the worst airports, airlines, and days to travel around the Thanksgiving holiday, discovering that certain travelers have a much better better shot of having a smooth airport experience than others. In some cases, it could be a matter of going to the airport across town, even. Based on data from last November's holiday travel, here are the worst places to fly out of in late November:

A map of the airports in the U.S. with the worst flight delays on Thanksgiving
Treetopia

In Chicago, for instance, Midway faces some of the worst delays in the country around Thanksgiving, but O'Hare has one of the best track records. In the D.C. area, you're much better off flying out of Dulles (No. 5 on the Best Airports list) than the Baltimore-Washington airport (No. 9 on the Worst Airports list). And in the Bay Area, you want to avoid going to either Oakland (the country's worst airport for Thanksgiving travel, and a regular on most-delayed lists) or San Jose (the fifth worst). Hopefully you can fly out of San Francisco instead.

If you're looking for the most reliable travel experience, below are the best airports and airlines to fly that week, according to Treetopia's numbers.

A map of the best airports for Thanksgiving travel
Treetopia

However, your likelihood of delay is also affected by which airline you're flying with and what route you're traveling on. Shorter routes in particular seem to be at risk of delays—especially if you're flying within California.

Charts of the best and worst air travel routes to fly around Thanksgiving
Treetopia

And here are the airlines you should avoid and the ones you should gravitate toward if you're looking to get to Thanksgiving dinner on time:

Charts of the best and worst airlines to travel with on Thanksgiving
Treetopia

Best of luck at the airport this holiday season! And get ready: Christmas/holiday-travel season is just a few short weeks away.

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