How to Change Lanes
Your teen has seen you change lanes countless times while riding with you, and you probably make it look pretty easy. Changing lanes is not easy. Making a lane change is very complex and can be quite dangerous. However, every driver needs to know how to change lanes. Teach your teen how to change lanes properly, as this is not a maneuver to be taken lightly.
When should you change lanes?
You should never weave in and out of lanes of traffic, but sometimes it is necessary to change lanes (one at a time!). Examples of appropriate reasons to change lanes include:
- Your lane is ending.
- You plan to turn at an upcoming intersection that requires you to be in another lane.
- You are approaching hazards or obstacles in your lane.
- The vehicle in front of you is driving slower than the speed limit and you want to pass safely.
Making the lane change
First, make sure it is safe to change lanes and there are no pedestrians, vehicles, or other obstacles in your planned path of travel. Use your mirrors to see your adjacent and rear surroundings. By using the BGE mirror setting you do not have to turn your head in order to see your surroundings. The BGE mirror setting also reduces the two typical blindspots into four mini blindspots. The four mini blindspots are not large enough to completely hide a vehicle.
Next, turn on your turn signal. You want other vehicles around you to be aware that you plan on changing lanes. Do not simply flick your turn signal so that it flashes once. Two flickers isn’t enough either. Leave your turn signal on throughout the entire lane change process.
Re-check your surroundings by using your side and rearview mirrors. Determine the gap you will move into and ensure nothing is in the way. The gap should be large enough to allow you to enter the lane without disrupting the flow of traffic. Other vehicles should not have to slow down, speed up, or change lanes because you entered their lane.
Once you have determined there is ample room and time for you to enter a new lane, you can smoothly move into the new lane. Do not turn the wheel abruptly or sharply, causing the car to jerk into the new lane. All it takes is a slight turn of the wheel to smoothly move into a new lane. Either maintain your current speed or accelerate slightly just before and during the lane change. Do not slow down, as this will cause vehicles behind you to get closer and possibly cause a collision.
After you are in your new lane, turn off your turn signal. Readjust your speed to keep with the flow of traffic in your new lane. Check your mirrors to reacquaint yourself with the new conditions behind you and to ensure the vehicle behind you is not too close to you after you entered the lane.
The first few times your teen changes lanes, help your teen determine if the gap is large enough for the vehicle and coach him through the lane change. He might think there is enough room when there is not or he might misjudge the speed of the vehicle he wants to move in front of. Or, your teen might not yet trust his own judgment. When driving is at issue, it is better to be cautious than over-confident.
Delaying or adjusting a lane change
Sometimes, there will be an instance when you need to delay or adjust your lane change. Even if you are about to miss your exit or turn, never make a hurried or unsafe lane change. You can always take the next exit and turn around.
If there is a car in your blindspot in the lane you want to move into, speed up or slow down until there is enough space for you to change lanes. This is why you need to use your mirrors multiple times before making the lane change.
During heavier traffic or when cars are following each other too closely, there might not be enough space for you to make a lane change. Speed up or slow down if there is enough space either in front of the cars or behind them. If you have to speed up or slow down so much that it puts you or others in danger, wait to change lanes. Never force your way into a lane; this is dangerous for both you and other drivers. Hopefully, another driver will notice your turn signal and will make space for you.
If there is a car in the lane you want to move into that is approaching at a faster speed than you are traveling at, simply wait for the car to pass you and then make the lane change. Do not get in front of that car. Not only will it make the driver angry, but more severely, the driver might not have enough time to slow down behind you.
Do not change lanes while you are driving through an intersection or approaching an intersection. Wait until you pass through the intersection to change lanes. There is already enough danger at intersections without the added threat of cars changing lanes.