Safely changing lanes requires a lot of thought and planning. There are a number of reasons you might need to change lanes, and when doing so, you need to be prepared. When executed properly, a lane change should not interrupt the flow of traffic. Executing a safe lane change requires more than simply turning on your signal and moving over. Rather, it requires decision-making, observation and physical skill.
When you decide to change lanes, observe the traffic around you and consider several factors. If you are in heavy traffic, maybe now is not a good time to execute a lane maneuver. If you are traveling at a slower speed than other traffic, a lane maneuver could result in an accident. Will changing lanes require those around you to slow down or speed up? Consider these factors before making your decision.
Once you decide to move over, Signal, Observe and Smooth (S.O.S.). Signal at least four clicks before beginning to change lanes, observe the traffic on all sides and make the lane change maneuver so that it is a smooth transition for you and other vehicles around you. By signaling at least four clicks, you give traffic a heads up as to what you are doing. You should not turn off your signal until you are safely in your new lane. Observing traffic around you provides valuable information as to where vehicles are and how their location and speed will affect your lane change. Finally, your lane change should be a smooth maneuver for all. Other traffic should not have to speed up or slow down because you changed lanes. If done correctly, you should not have to speed up and slow down, either. Only in merging situations should you have to adjust your speed to allow other traffic to merge smoothly—or to merge into traffic.
If you have followed Megasafe7 Rule 2: Expand Your View, you will know about upcoming construction, a vehicle on the side of the road, an entrance ramp or lane closure that will result in one lane merging into another. There should be no surprises. Emergency lane maneuvers are usually the result of inadequate surveillance skill—and inadequate surveillance causes 60 percent of lane change and merging accidents.
View the full list of Ruan's Megasafe7 Rules of Safe Driving!