Zipper merge lanes are multiplying in Saskatchewan and residents might want to learn how to properly navigate one if they don't already know.

To help, Saskatchewan Government Insurance includes a new section about zipper merges in the latest edition of its Saskatchewan Driver's Handbook, which was released earlier this month.

"[The zipper merge] is a new behaviour for a lot of people," said Tyler McMurchy, SGI media relations manager, on Thursday. "It's also something that's gaining acceptance … in North America and elsewhere."


The differences between a regular merge and a zipper merge. (City of Saskatoon)

If you're trying to picture how the zipper merge works, imagine driving and suddenly realizing the lane you are in ends ahead. Rather than stopping and trying to change lanes, drivers proceed right up to the point where one lane closes.

At that point, the driver in the lane that's ending merges into the open lane, with vehicles proceeding in turns from each lane, like the teeth of a zipper.

This "zipper merge" technique allows both lanes of traffic to be used up until the merge is complete.

The process may become complicated if there are multiple drivers in the mix, but the new handbook aims to clarify the situation. Drivers often become nervous and stop while zipper merging, which McMurchy said "tends to bottleneck" traffic.

Zipper merge demonstration0:29

The handbook is updated and re-printed each fall.

Other new information includes:

  • Tougher impaired driving and cellphone laws that came into effect this year.
  • The most effective steering wheel hand positions.
  • Changes to rules around tow truck lights and speeds when passing a truck with flashing lights.
  • Changes to which family members are allowed to ride with new drivers.
  • Right of way in parking lots.

The updated version is available online or at most SGI licence issuers and driver-exam offices.