How to Change Lanes Safely & Correctly

Changing lanes safely can be a daunting task, but if you follow the proper procedure and obey the road rules, it can be a breeze. In this blog post, we will go over the steps you need to take to change lanes safely and efficiently. We’ll also discuss some of the common mistakes drivers make when changing lanes so that you can avoid them. Stay safe out there on the road!


How to Change Lanes Correctly

Correct Procedure to Change Lanes Safely

It’s important to remember that when you want to change lanes, you must give way to other vehicles that are already in your intended lane or line of traffic. You do not have the right of way.

You must also give way to other traffic if you have to cross over any lines that show the lane is ending and you have to merge into a line of traffic. The only time other drivers must give way to you, is when the lane you’re travelling in is a zip lane and any part of your vehicle is travelling ahead of another vehicle.

Zip or zipper merging is when two lanes of traffic merge into one and the lane markings have ended before the lane ends. This applies regardless of whether you’re merging left or right from a zipper lane. If you’re a learner driver, your driving instructor will take you through these steps also.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to change lanes safely and correctly:

1. Check Mirrors:

The first thing to check is your mirrors. This includes your rear-view and side mirrors. This is to assess the flow of other vehicles and to identify a safe gap depending on which lane you’re changing into.

2. Proper Signaling:

Make sure to warn other drivers of your intention by indicating for at least 3-5 seconds before changing your position. Don’t indicate at the same time you commence changing. Be sure to do it well in advance. Failing to indicate is not only unsafe but it’s also an offence. This can result in a crash and or fines/loss of points.

3. Check Blindspots:

It’s paramount that you perform a head or shoulder check and check your blind spots before changing lanes. Other vehicles and/or motorcycles can be easily hidden in a vehicles blind spot. Many accidents occur because drivers don’t check their blindspots first. You can avoid this by simply looking over your shoulder (chin to shoulder) to check before moving your position.

4. Manoeuvre Smoothly:

Once you have checked your mirrors, indicated, and checked your blind spot, commence the manoeuvre if it’s safe and clear. Make sure that you execute the manoeuvre smoothly at a suitable speed and with little steering input to avoid jerking the steering wheel. Whilst completing the manoeuvre, continue looking forward in the direction of travel in case the traffic conditions change unexpectedly. This is important when driving in heavy traffic as the vehicle in front may brake suddenly.

5. Re-Assess the Situation:

Once you’ve safely completed the manoeuvre, cancel out the indicator if required. Check your mirrors and re-assess the traffic around you. Establish a safe travelling distance and correct lane positioning.


How to Change Lanes Safely

6. Don’t Change Lanes in an Intersection:

This is a major no-no. Not only is it dangerous, but it’s also against the law in most states. If you need to change lanes close to an intersection, either complete the manoeuvre before wait until you’ve passed through then make the move.

7. Use caution when changing lanes around trucks:

Trucks have large blind spots, so you need to be extra careful when changing lanes around them. Make sure you signal early and check multiple times before making any sudden moves.

8. Be patient:

Changing lanes can be frustrating, particularly when it’s busy. However, it’s important to be patient. If there’s a line of cars in the lane you want to move into, wait until there’s a safe gap. Making an illegal or unsafe lane change is not worth the risk.


Common Mistakes To Avoid When Changing Lanes

Now that we’ve gone over the correct way to change lanes let’s look at some of the common mistakes some drivers make, so that you can avoid them. One of the most common mistakes is failing to signal or not signaling correctly. Remember, you should always signal at least 3 to 5 seconds before you change lanes. You need to warn other road users of your intent to change lanes.

Changing lanes in heavy traffic can be tricky due to the closeness and start-stop of traffic. Where possible, avoid changing lanes unless you need to prepare for an upcoming turn etc. It’s during these times that your risk of being involved in a crash is increased.

If you’re learning to drive or preparing for your driving test, your driving instructor will explain and discuss with you the importance of changing lanes safely & correctly. It isn’t as difficult as you may think. We recommend using an established and reputable driving school with experienced, friendly and qualified driving instructors to assist.

How to Change Lanes Safely

Learn How to Change Lanes Safely & Correctly

At Learn Drive Survive, we offer driving lessons that teach learner drivers about changing lanes safely. Our experienced and professional driving instructors are knowledgeable in teaching this important driving skill as well as other driving skills and techniques. We believe that everyone can learn to change lanes safely with on-going practice and patience.


Learn Drive Survive Safer Drivers Course

Have you considered completing a Safer Drivers Course with Learn Drive Survive? This is the best way to help NSW learner drivers to become safer drivers. All learners are taught the importance of low-risk driving techniques and strategies that include effective scanning and observation checks when preparing to change lanes safely. So, remember to always check your blind spot any time you intend on changing your path or position, especially when changing lanes.

For more information, visit our Safer Drivers Course page or book a course near you in Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, The Hunter, Mid North Coast or Northern Rivers.

Alternatively, you can contact us on 1800 898 969 and one of our friendly staff will be happy to assist you.

So, what are you waiting for? Give Learn Drive Survive a call and book your lane-changing lesson today!