How To Change Lanes Safely When Driving?
We will often need to change lanes while driving, for example: when passing parked cars, or when overtaking. To do this safely we need to judge the speed and position of other vehicles as well as keep good control of our car. It can be more difficult when driving in heavy traffic or on unfamiliar roads as we have less time to make the right decision.
Unsafe lane changes are one of the most common causes of traffic accidents. Whether you are driving in a busy street or cruising on the highway, you must always master the minimum maneuvers to change lanes safely. In the article, we will show you How to change lanes correctly? and what we do if we get stuck in the wrong lane.
How To Change Lanes Safely – Basic Skills.
Before entering into the safe lane change operations, or performing other vehicle overtaking, the following are some notes you need to understand:
- On a road with many lanes, the left lane is for high-speed vehicles, if you do not need to drive at high speed, move into the right lane. If you go too slow in the left lane, you are the biggest cause of accidents.
- Should not change lanes continuously. The lanes are very clearly divided for traffic to follow for safety, the street is not a race track and you and your car are not great racers so you don’t have to change continuous lanes. Please try to stick and move in a fixed lane to ensure your safety.
Let’s go deep to find out what are the safety steps to follow when changing lanes:
Step 1: Check your car before starting
You may feel this is an irrelevant step in the lane change process. But we think this is a very important step to start a safe trip. Before kicking off a trip, especially when driving on the highway, the driver needs to check the brakes, lights, brake lights, fuel… to make sure the car is working properly.
Particularly, attention should be paid to tire pressure and safety. When your tire is under-inflated, it will cause the car to consume gas and easily tilt when running at high speed. In contrast, when the tire is over-inflated when running at a fast speed, the friction between the roughness of the road surface and the tire causes the air to expand, which can easily cause the tire to explode.
Step 2: Make sure you signal
First, turn on the signal light to notify the surrounding vehicles that you are intending to change lanes. This step will help the vehicles around you read your mind through the signal. What signal should you give before changing lanes in traffic? You can notify other drivers to know what are you going to do with your hands, the vehicle’s turn signals, or brake lights. You need a minimum of three flashes on the signal before you move over to the desired lanes. Once you turn on the signal light, it doesn’t mean you have to switch lanes immediately. New drivers get anxious and they want to change lanes as soon as they turn the signal but remember to take your time because you are a new driver while doing this maneuver.
Some drivers argue that you must first check the mirror to see if it’s clear before we signal. We don’t think it’s a good idea. Because other vehicles only know about your intention after turning the signal and that’s how they decide whether they want to let you get in front of them or they want to pass you.
Step 3: Check the mirror and observe
After turning the signal light, you will move to the next step: check your mirrors which include the rearview and side mirrors. Observing mirrors to make sure that there are no vehicles moving in the location where you want to change lanes.
What are you checking in the rearview mirror? In this mirror, you want to see What the car behind is doing? You want to know If they have their signal on to go into the same lanes that you want to go on. In this case, you must cancel the signal and let them switch lanes before you do and try again after they pass your car.
If they don’t have the signal, move to the next step: Checking the side view mirrors. This is the trickiest part of lane-changing. People usually have difficulty judging how far other cars are and how fast they are coming especially if you are a new driver. Our advice for you is: make sure that you’re maintaining the limit speed on the road. Generally, there are always 2 factors drivers should consider during changing lanes: speed and distance. Besides, in this step, you also take some notes like:
- Is the point to overtake ahead clear, is it intersections, narrow roads, or pedestrian streets?
- Check the vehicle in front and behind to see if there is a vehicle that wants to change lanes or pass.
>> Read more: 7 Tips FOR Using Mirrors While Driving To Keep You Safe
Step 4: Check the blind spot
A car’s blind spot is a space that, either directly or through the rearview, cannot be seen by the driver. Blind spots often appear in situations when traveling on the road, reversing, changing lanes, or turning at an intersection. Blind spots are commonly caused by the rearview mirror, in front of or behind the vehicle, or by the driver’s physique and sitting posture. Car blind spots are often proportional to the size of the vehicle.
Checking the blind spot is a very important step that many drivers often skip, leading to unexpected accidents. If your car is equipped with a blind-spot warning system, that’s great, you are owning a very smart and safe car. Otherwise, when changing lanes check the blind spot by the simple method: Once changing lanes to the left, turn your head to the left and look towards the side of the B-pillar. When changing lanes to the right, turn right and look at the edge of the C-pillar. These are 2 blind spots that the rearview mirror can hardly provide enough visibility for you.
Another effective way, we think this method was applied by many drivers is “Shoulder check”. The purpose of this method is to see what is in your side blind spot. The shoulder check will give you a full view of the surroundings. When you make this maneuver, your head should move, and you should look over your shoulder at least 45 degrees in the direction you are looking out. As your head moves around to observe, it’s a good idea to look in the rear window to see if there’s anything in that blind spot and back to looking ahead once you’ve seen the void.
Step 5: Start switching lanes
After completing the above 4 steps, we will start to gently steer the vehicle into the other lanes. Maintain a steady speed and gently turn the steering wheel in the direction the driver wants to change lanes. How to steer properly? A lot of people thought that they must steer this much when switching lanes. This is a misconception. You just need to steer slightly and don’t have to turn the wheels too much. The benefit of this action will help you a lot during the correction.
>> Related posts: 8 Imperative Tips to Consider While Changing Lanes
What Divers Shouldn’t Do During Changing Lanes?
Do you know that only the small mistakes when switching lanes can be the main route to serious accidents, especially when driving on the highway or on busy roads? In this part, we will tell you some errors, you can easily encounter when doing this maneuver:
Do not drive too close to a car.
It will make it difficult for you to switch lanes quickly. And you will either have to reverse or wait for the car in front of you to move forward. Always have at least one car length distance in slow-moving traffic and two or three-car length distance and a fast-moving traffic situation.
Forgetting to turn on the signal.
Signals and horns are extremely important, especially when changing lanes in bad weather. We should turn on both signal lights and horns for other vehicles to recognize to avoid collisions. Many drivers do not bother to observe other vehicles but quickly change lanes. Changing lanes without warning not only violates traffic laws but also easily leads to unfortunate accidents. Therefore, when you want to change lanes, do not forget to turn on the signal. After that, the driver should look again to make sure not to affect surrounding vehicles, especially vehicles moving in the car’s blind spot.
Do not signal only for a half-second. You can fail the road test for doing this and moreover what if the cars behind you don’t see your signal, they will never know what your intentions are and it could lead to a collision. So it’s always good to leave the signal on until you’re halfway into the other lanes then you will cancel the signal.
Changing lanes slowly, not decisively
This is a common mistake in “inexperienced” drivers. When changing lanes, they often hesitate to go too fast to the other lane. However, this hesitation also greatly affects the vehicles on the road. Not to mention the case of collisions and accidents caused by you driving the car at an unstable speed. When you feel that it is safe and you can change lanes, you should let the vehicle change lanes decisively, keeping a stable speed. Never suddenly slow down or brake after changing into a new lane.
Note: When changing lanes you should never change lanes on curves.
Final Thoughts: How To Change Lanes Safely When Driving?
Changing lanes is a driving principle to ensure safety for road users and this is one of the skills that every driver needs to learn. But how to switch lanes? can be one of the biggest fear of new drivers. Don’t be afraid: keep practicing in fewer traffic areas in order to gain confidence. You should gauge your speed and distance, in front of and behind you, and keep an eye on others – you don’t have that – for where you’re going. We hope that the article will be helpful for drivers.