Friday, October 11, 2013

Sideswipe/Lane Change Accidents

There are many types of hazards that a semi-driver must identify on a daily basis. Two of the most serious and severe driving hazards are those caused by drivers making abrupt lane changes or improper lane usage. There are many reasons why drivers enter into the wrong lane or make abrupt lane shifts but as a defensive driver, we must learn how to identify areas where increased risks for these types of accidents occur. In 88% of opposite direction sideswipe accidents, the passenger vehicle was the striking vehicle and in 72% of the same direction sideswipe accidents, the passenger vehicle was the striking vehicle. According to this information, we need to develop the skills to prevent ourselves from becoming involved in a lane change/sideswipe accident whether the other driver strikes you or you are found at fault.

Lane changing accidents happen when you are unable to see clearly around your vehicle and sideswipe other vehicles while changing lanes. As a rule, you should keep your vehicle in the far right lane of a multiple lane highway. But there are times when you may choose to change lanes -- to overtake extremely slow moving vehicles or to enter or exit the highway. When you do change lanes, it must be done safely. The risk of a sideswipe or lane change accident goes up every time it is necessary for you to change lanes.

Remember, if you are found to be at fault for a sideswipe or lane change accident, it will be considered a preventable accident.


What are some common reasons for a driver causing a lane change accident to occur?

  • Not checking and rechecking the mirrors to ensure that there is proper clearance.
  • Not properly using the turn signal.
  • Using the turn signal but the maneuver happens as the signal is turned on.
  • Not shifting lanes and allowing other drivers to enter the roadway (i.e. from on-ramp).
  • Having a blown or broken turn lamp on the vehicle.
  • Fatigue.
  • Inexperience or unfamiliarity with roadway.
  • Distraction.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
What are some common reasons for drivers to drift or enter into the opposite lane?

  • Poor visibility – accidents occur when a driver cannot see the markings on the roadway due to adverse weather conditions such as fog, rain, snow, sun in eyes, or ice.
  • Roadway obstruction – accidents occur when a driver must shift lanes due to an obstruction such as a parked vehicle or construction equipment.
  • Traveling too fast – accidents are caused by poor judgment and improper speed control (not following posted limits) usually around tight curves or corners.
  • Narrow lanes – accidents occur because drivers have minimal room for error/control in these areas.
  • Driver distraction – accidents occur because of the reduced visualization when taking one’s eyes off of the road. Example: Dropping an item on the floorboard and reaching to pick it up, typing a satellite message, talking on a cellular phone, lighting a cigarette, turning the channel on the radio, etc.
  • Improper passing – when a driver must enter into the opposite lane in order to pass a slower moving vehicle without ensuring adequate passing power and sufficient distancing.

 Here are some points to remember when using the Interstate System or any multi-lane roadway with  limited access.
1.       Properly adjust your mirrors during your pre-trip inspection. Use a mirror check station if possible.

2.       When entering a multi-lane highway, blend in, MERGE, don't use your size and weight to "bully" your way into traffic.

3.       When driving on multi-lane roads ALWAYS use your turn signals before you change lanes. Flash your turn signal at least three times before moving the steering wheel to change lanes.

4.       Whenever possible drive in the right-hand lane except when passing. After completing a passing move, make certain that you see the vehicle you just passed in your right mirror and to the rear of your vehicle before returning to the right lane.

5.       Be especially alert when passing the entrance to a controlled access highway. A vehicle entering the highway on your right may not be seen and if you attempt a lane change an accident could result.

6.       Keep your eyes moving from the front, to the right mirror, back to the front, to the left mirror, back to the front, and so on. If there was a vehicle behind you in the right lane and it's no longer there, find our where it went before attempting any lane change. If you are in the left lane, chances are that vehicle is attempting to pass you to the right and is now sitting at your passenger door.


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