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Chokepoints: Ellensburg brewery joins zipper merge crusade

(Contributed)

An Ellensburg brewery has joined the crusade to change driver behavior.

KIRO listener Colleen sent me the above picture. It shows an Iron Horse Brewery truck with a simple message under its skull and crossbones logo. “How to merge? One word: Zipper.”

Chokepoints: Drivers, you’re still doing it wrong

I asked Jared Vallejo, the marketing manager for the Iron Horse Brewery, why the company decided to attack the lack of merging etiquette and understanding on our roads.

“It’s definitely a frustration everybody in the company and outside the company expresses, the whole merging epidemic,” he said. “You look down and zip up your coat, but you can’t look forward and see that the same concept would work.”

When the brewery decided to get a large distribution truck to run the I-5 corridor in Puget Sound, Vallejo said they wanted to send a message.

“This truck is going to be traveling in heavy traffic all the time; how can we use it as a vehicle for sharing some type of message and be a little cheeky about it?” he said. “The natural thing was to try and solve the merge thing.”

The message has been on the back of that truck for about 18 months. Vallejo said the brewery has received some feedback.

“Is it changing merging?” he asked. “That is the real question.”

I know it caught Colleen’s eye, and for the brewery, if it can change the behavior of just a few drivers it will have worked.

“The more that we can get to a 100 percent success rate we have to keep going with this … maybe see more of our trucks with this message out there,” he said.

For drivers that still aren’t familiar with what the zipper merge concept is:

In slowing traffic and lower speeds, when your lane is ending, drive all the way until it ends and merge over. Use the amount of pavement that you have. Do not merge over early. Do not cross the white lines and jam your way in. And drivers in the through-lane, do not prevent other drivers from getting in.

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