People who merge like a zip are enjoying shorter and safer journeys, according to new data from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
In December last year, Waka Kotahi trialled new signs and road markings to encourage better merging behaviour at the Tawa, Churton Park and Newlands southbound on-ramps along State Highway 1 (SH1).
Data from February 2021 shows that at times either side of the morning peak, journey times have improved by up to 20 percent when passing or using each of the three interchanges. This is despite traffic volumes being marginally heavier in 2021 than over the same period in 2020.
“This shows why merging like a zip works. It helps traffic flow more smoothly, reduces congestion and improves safety on the roads,” says Wellington System Manager Mark Owen.
“Merging like a zip isn’t about letting someone get in front of you, it’s about enjoying the collective results of better traffic flow. When people merge like a zip, and they get the benefit of a smoother journey, a safer journey, and an earlier arrival at their destination.”
The results from improved merging mean it is taking longer to reach peak congestion - the period when drivers experience the heaviest congestion - and less time to recover from it.
“More importantly, it means there is much safer merging taking place, which reduces the chances of a crash and further delays on the network. With more vehicles back on the road following the end of the school holidays, we want to make sure that everyone enjoys a safe journey,” Mr Owen says.
Waka Kotahi will soon introduce similar changes at the State Highway 2 Petone on-ramp and, following the success of the SH1 trial, is investigating other locations throughout New Zealand.
“People using these interchanges are benefitting from the changes, and we want people on the rest of the state highway network to enjoy similar benefits,” Mr Owen says.
The data comes as Waka Kotahi continues to monitor the Wellington transport network and make subsequent changes to improve safety and efficiency ahead of the opening of Transmission Gully.
The Wellington Network Operational Readiness project includes preparing road users and residents for what those changes will mean for their journeys, and physical changes that Waka Kotahi is making to ensure safety and efficiency on the network.