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Sunday, December 10, 2023
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Changing Lanes

3 min read
Learn how to switch lanes properly and legally, and avoid mistakes and behaviour that may result in an accident. 
Changing lanes is the simple task of moving from one lane to another, but thoughtlessness and errors committed by drivers making this move not only frustrate other road users, they are also the most likely causes of road accidents. Regardless of whether it is on busy roads in the city or on long stretches of expressways, proper lane-changing techniques are paramount for road safety. It is important for you to signal your intention early so as to give other road users enough time to react to your change of direction for safe changing lanes. Turning on the indicator lights of the vehicle you are driving can also save you a pretty penny. “Insufficient warning signals” is an offence under the Driver Improvement Points System (DIPS) implemented by the Traffic Police — you could be fined $100 (if you had been driving a light vehicle) or $150 (for heavy vehicles).

Signalling Your Intention
Failing to signal is one of the most common mistakes drivers make. It’s also important to signal your intention early to give other road users enough time to react to your change of direction. Keep in mind that signalling doesn’t automatically give you the right of way! Develop the habit of signalling even if you think there are no cars around, as there may be other road users you may not be aware of who need to be cognisant of your intention.

Check Blind Spots
Whenever you are switching lanes, it’s important to check your rear- and side-view mirrors first; you should also do a quick look over your shoulder to check that the next lane is clear so that you don’t turn into a car that’s in your blind spot. Even if your car has a blind spot monitoring system, a glance over the shoulder is still recommended.

After making sure the coast is clear and there are no approaching cars, maintain your speed and steer smoothly into the lane you wish to move into. Avoid taking an eternity to do this, as this not only irritates, but also may confuse drivers who are waiting for you to complete the lane switch. On the other hand, don’t speed either, or you could lose control of your vehicle while making that move.

After you’ve made the lane switch, make sure to turn off your indicator lights. Some drivers tend to leave their turn signal on after making the lane switch, oblivious to the confusion and annoyance that the continuing signal is causing in fellow road users, who are left to second-guess the true intentions of these inconsiderate drivers. This can also be potentially dangerous should another driver misinterpret your intention and make a turn into your lane, thinking you are switching lanes.

If you need to switch multiple lanes, do it one lane at a time, and only when it is safe to do so. You can leave the indicator lights on the whole period you are switching multiple lanes, but remember to switch it off after you are done.

If you have your route planned out, you shouldn’t need to change lanes that often. If you check your route and are aware of obstacles such as roadworks and detours beforehand, plan your lane positions such that you can easily avoid these obstacles without too much manoeuvring. If you know that traffic conditions will worsen at certain times, depart earlier or later to avoid being on the roads at these times — then you wouldn’t be changing lanes all the time trying to find the fastest-moving one.

Lane changing is a simple task that’s made challenging when drivers are too impatient, careless, or plain inconsiderate. It is each driver’s responsibility to make a proper lane change to not add any more stress or confusion on our roads.