Driving 101: Changing Lanes


Some days on the commute to or from work, I feel like I’m a slow driver in a NASCAR race.  Other drivers race past me and move in and out of lanes as if there were a checkered flag at the end.  Turn signals are optional.  Hey – they know where they are going!  That’s all that matters right?

No.  This isn’t a NASCAR race or any other kind of race.  This is highway driving.

Okay, Nashvillans, here are the official rules for changing lanes:

When changing lanes, the MOST important thing is to make sure there is clear gap in the traffic.  Then move safely and smoothly into the center of the desired lane, while maintaining your space in the flow of traffic so that no other vehicle is forced to slow down, speed up, or change lanes to avoid collision.

Okay, I know I lost most of the Music City drivers there.

When you change lanes, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on your signal.  (It’s usually located on the left side of the steering wheel)
  2. Check your mirrors.  (That shiny thing on the side of the car)
  3. Check your blind spot by looking over your shoulder. (Look up the definition of a blind spot)
  4. If it is safe, change lanes. (Remember, there’s no checkered flag at the end)
  5. Turn off your signal after completing the lane change.  (Or leave it on until you get to Florida)

Other things about changing lanes:

  • On a four-lane road where two lanes travel in one direction and two other lanes travel in the opposite direction, the right lane is designed to be the primary driving lane and the left lane is to be used for passing.
  • ALL drivers should surrender the left lane to approaching emergency vehicles.
  • Although it’s not illegal to change lanes in an intersection, it is potentially dangerous and should be avoided if possible.  (Yes, I got busted on this one recently.)

One of the most hazardous issues on the highways are when drivers decide to change lanes at the last possible moment.  This shows a lack of awareness by the driver.  Be in the lane you are supposed to be in well in advance to avoid this erratic lane change.  If you miss your turn, just get off at the next exit or change your route.  With the technology we have now, there is no reason to freak out that you will miss your one and only chance to make your move.

Nashville, please be aware of what you are doing.  It is everyone’s responsibility to make safe lane changes.




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