How to Safely Change Lanes on NY Highways

December 18, 2020

It would be best if you always were calm and relaxed when driving because your mind is at its best when you are calm. If you are taking a driving test, you have reason to be worried because should you fail the test, the road to a driving license is barred.

Before you even think of changing lanes, it goes with saying that you should have already learned how to use turn signals on the road.

General Rules for Lanes

Before we get to the guidelines, you need to bear these general lane rules in mind:

1. The rules of changing lanes apply whether you are in New York City or on an interstate highway, so do not neglect them once you are out of NY.

2. On a four-lane road where two of the lanes head in the same direction and the other two in the opposite, with a turning lane or median in the center, the primary driving lane is supposed to be the right lane.

The left lane is for the motorists wishing to overtake other slow-moving vehicles. For that reason, avoid driving in the left lane for too long because you may inconvenience others.

3. The left lane is used by approaching emergency vehicles like ambulance so ready to surrender it when need be.

4. It is a bad driving habit to keep changing lanes now and then, even if you do it correctly. Remember each time you change lanes, you momentarily distract other road users. You cause a kind of shock wave that ripples the traffic. To avoid having to change lanes now and then, you should learn how to pick the right lane from the onset.

5. Do not forget the right-of-way rules. An accident can happen anywhere, but one of the instances more likely to cause one is changing lanes. To prevent this, you need to fully comprehend the right-of-way guidelines so that you know when to change lanes or hold on.

Traffic signs and other guidelines cannot always prevent all road accidents. A green light cannot, for example, indicate which car should go first if you just got to an intersection where there is already another car making a left turn.

The way out of this is for the road users to collectively apply the unwritten but crucial right-of-way rules to determine who goes first and who waits.

That said, the following is the ultimate guide to changing lanes in NY:

1. Reduce Speed

If you are taking a driving test and are asked to change lanes, you may instantly make the turn without slowing down, especially if you are nervous. Do not jump into the other lane without a second thought because you are going to disrupt other road users; you only change lanes once you have observed and applied the necessary safety measures.

2. Activate the Turn Signals

It would help if you alerted the cars behind you that you are about to change lanes. So, turn the rear signal on. If you are to turn to the left lane, you need to turn the left indicator. The law requires you to turn the signal when you are at least 30 meters ahead. Do not slow down and turn before activating the signal.

3. Check the Mirrors

As you alert the other road users, check your mirrors to see how far or close the cars are behind you. Furthermore, check for other cars currently in the lane you plan to join. How far or close are they, and how fast are they driving?

4. Check Your Blind Spot

You should look over your shoulder to check your blind spots each time you plan to change lanes. You should especially watch out for motorcycles because most incidents involving motorcycles happen due to the lane-changing driver’s failing to see the motorcycle in time.

It is easy to forget about the motorcycles and only watch out for the vehicles, but detest the habit.

5. Make the Turn

Still maintaining your speed, steer to the other lane as smoothly as possible. Move into the center of the new lane with the same speed so that no vehicle behind or ahead of you is forced to slow down, drive faster or change lanes for your sake.

If you are a driver under instructions (driving test) on a multi-lane road and are asked to join the left lane, you have to move to the left lane gradually and into the turning lane.

Ensure the wheels are straight up to the moment you make the turn so that should you be hit from behind, your car would not be pushed into the lane you intended to join, as happens if the wheels are turned before you start changing the lanes.

Because you do not have the right of way in this case, you should be keen on the oncoming traffic and pedestrians. It would help if you only made the turn when all is safe for you and other road users.

Talking of pedestrians, you better be especially careful of those in wheelchairs or pushing some suitcase. At times they are closer to the ground and hidden from your view that you only see them when it is late.

6. Turn off the Signal

It is easy to forget to turn off the signal, especially if you are a would-be licensed driver taking the test. Overtake the car that is moving slowly.

7. Turn on the Signal

Now that you are about to move back to your old lane, turn on the signal again to inform other drivers of your intentions. Please do not assume that they already know what you are up to.

8. Check the Mirrors

You should again check your rearview and side mirrors to see where the other vehicles are currently are. Do not forget to check your car’s blind spot. Check the mirrors once more.

9. Revert To the Old Lane

If the coast is clear, steer back to your old lane as smoothly as you steered out of it.

Wrap Up

While there are those moments you have to change lanes to avoid being delayed by an ever slow truck ahead of you, it is recommended that you also learn to be patient with other road users. Do not always think about changing lanes anytime you feel you should be driving faster than the vehicle in front.

As already said and is worth repeating: changing lanes have shock waves that reverberate far and wide, depending on the traffic size.

To practically learn how to change lanes in NY and master other driving skills, enroll for our driving lessons. Not only will these skills help you to pass the road test; they will also make you a safe driver on New York roads.