Have you ever been driving down the highway and someone speeds up from behind and cuts in front of you? This is an example of an improper lane change. Making an improper lane change is illegal, and it risks the lives of all drivers in the vicinity. The nearby drivers may swerve and lose control of the vehicle and crash into other nearby cars. When a driver makes an improper lane change, other motorists have little to no time to react to the unsafe maneuver.
Unfortunately, improper lane changes are common. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), improper lane changes account for about 10 percent of all car accidents in the U.S. The NHTSA has found that drivers failing to stay in their lane cause almost 17,000 deaths each year. That number is about half of all car accident-related deaths.
The most common improper lane change is when a driver fails to signal their intentions to cross a lane. This maneuver is often accompanied by speeding. It is easy to see why this causes so many car accidents and fatalities. Drivers in the receiving lane do not have an advance warning of the lane change.
A safe and proper lane change involves preparation, warning, and execution. To prepare, a driver must check surrounding lanes for other vehicles in their proximity to make sure the lane is clear. Before changing lanes, use your turn signal to warn other drivers in the receiving lane. When making the lane change, do not accelerate, simply maintain your speed. Avoid changing lanes in or around intersections.
What Causes Improper Lane Changes?
Sometimes, improper lane changes are related to situations that are out of control of the driver. Other causes of lane change are within the driver’s control. Besides intentionally cutting in front of another driver, a driver may change lanes improperly while tired or while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, which can interfere with perception and ability. Other situations under the driver’s control include driving without correctly checking a blind spot or using rear- and side- view mirrors, and driving while distracted from a cellphone or another device.
What Are the Dangers of Improper Lane Changes?
An improper lane change can cause various problems. With little warning, other drivers are limited in their ability to safely respond to conditions out of their control.
Drivers in the receiving lane will instinctively try to avoid the vehicle entering their lane. They may swerve out of the way, or they may brake suddenly. The reaction can endanger other motorists, as they too will have to respond to a sudden and unexpected road condition. They may lose control of their vehicle. An improper lane change can cause a serious accident, such as a rear-end collision, rollover wreck, or a side-impact crash.
How Do I Prove an Improper Lane Change Caused My Accident?
Proving fault of the other driver can be challenging in this case. Multiple vehicles are in motion, and a car accident can happen very quickly. An experienced lawyer will have access to professionals who can collect and analyze evidence of the crash, such as damage to vehicles, tire tracks, and more. Other important evidence can include:
- Black boxes: Vehicle black boxes can reveal speed and whether brakes were applied.
- Cellphone records: Cellphone records detect whether a driver was texting or talking while driving at the time of the accident.
- Samples: Urine, blood, and breathalyzer tests can show whether a driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
Sometimes, fault is shared in an accident caused by an improper lane change. Sometimes, a driver seeks to change lanes, notes there is room, and uses their turn signal. However, the driver in the receiving lane speeds up to close the gap. If the driver changing lanes still executes the change and a crash follows, they may share liability. States differ as to how a determination of fault impacts liability and/or compensation amounts.
What Should I Do if a Lane Change Caused My Car Accident?
If you have been involved in an improper lane change car crash, it is best to ensure all appropriate evidence is secured. If possible, take photographs of the crash location, and gather information on witnesses. Calling 911 can help arrange for police and an ambulance to arrive. It is important to seek immediate medical attention, both to document your condition and to ensure you do not have latent injuries. Maintain all records of medical visits, treatments, and prescriptions.
You should also contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. It may be possible to obtain compensation for expenses beyond property damage. These include related medical expenses, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. Under certain circumstances, it is possible to receive compensation for emotional trauma. States differ in their statute of limitations for seeking compensation. It is usually set within two of the accident date.
Mount Laurel Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman Can Help You if an Improper Lane Change Caused Your Injuries
Every driver should know how to properly change lanes. If a negligent driver did not safely change lanes and you have injuries as a result, we can help. Our Mount Laurel car accident lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman can protect your rights. Call us at 856-751-2345 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.