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Dangers of Lane Change Accidents

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Posted By Legal Team | February 28 2023 | Car Accidents

Lane changes are one of the top causes of car accidents on major roadways in the United States. Every driver has experienced the terror of another vehicle suddenly moving into their lane and forcing them into a narrow escape with horn blaring. Our experienced team of Atlanta car accident attorneys have seen even the most seasoned drivers make this type of error if they fail to see a vehicle in a blind spot and then make an unsafe lane change and cause a near miss— or worse, an accident. Unlike accidents at intersections, improper lane change accidents happen with both cars at high speeds on multi-lane highways and sometimes end in multiple-car pile-ups.

What happens in these common traffic maneuvers that make them so inherently dangerous, and how can a driver minimize the danger? 

Common Causes of Lane Change Accidents

A lane change accident occurs when the driver of a car, truck, or bus attempts to move over into another lane to the right or left and collides with a vehicle already occupying the lane. Unsafe or improper lane changes may occur on any roadway with multiple lanes. Unsafe lane changes often happen due to the following:

  • The motorist changing lanes fails to check all rear-view mirrors for clearance
  • The motorist fails to signal before a lane change and another car moves into the same lane
  • Two cars merge into a lane at the same time
  • Distracted driving, such as texting, or checking a GPS causes an unsafe lane change
  • A driver moves off an exit ramp and merges into oncoming traffic unsafely, causing a sideswipe collision
  • A driver makes an unsafe attempt to merge into a too-tight space in another lane

Any driver attempting a lane change must take all necessary precautions to ensure the lane is clear before they merge. Unsafe lane changes cause sideswipe accidents, over-correction accidents, and sometimes multiple-car pileups, making this one of the most dangerous causes of car accidents.

Georgia’s Laws and Penalties for Unsafe Lane Changes

Georgia traffic laws require motorists to signal when making a lane change. Drivers must signal well in advance of merging in order to give other motorists time to react. Signaling a change does not give the lane-changing driver the right of way. Vehicles already occupying a lane always have the right of way. However, when vehicles on an exit ramp attempt to merge into traffic, motorists must change out of the lane as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Motorists and Georgia may receive traffic citations for improper lane changes under the following circumstances:

  • Failing to signal a lane change
  • Making erratic lane changes (weaving)
  • Crossing multiple lanes in one maneuver
  • Aggressive lane changing
  • Cutting off other vehicles or merging into overly tight traffic spots

Drivers should always use good judgment when making a lane change, not only to avoid citations but—more importantly—to avoid devastating improper lane change accidents. If you have been impacted in a life changing truck accident, don’t hesistate to call our Atlanta truck collision attorneys today. 

Penalties in Georgia for making unsafe or improper lane changes can be as much as $1,000 and 3 points against the driver’s license. Multiple offenses for unsafe lane changes may result in the loss of driving privileges or a requirement to attend traffic school. 

Drivers may also face civil penalties in court and bear liability for an accident caused by their unsafe lane change. Drivers with the right of way are almost always blameless in lane change accidents.

Determining Fault in an Improper Lane Change Accident

Determining fault in an improper lane change accident hinges on a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the incident. Typically, this process involves gathering evidence from various sources, including eyewitness testimonies, surveillance footage, and forensic analysis. Key factors assessed by investigators include the sequence of lane changes, the speed and positioning of each vehicle involved, and adherence to traffic regulations such as signaling and right of way. An analysis of vehicle damage patterns and skid marks can provide additional insights into the dynamics of the collision due to erratic lane changes.

Ultimately, fault is often assigned based on a combination of these factors, with the goal of accurately attributing responsibility for the accident. This determination is crucial for insurance claims, legal proceedings, and ensuring accountability for the parties involved. A personal injury attorney in Atlanta can represent your car accident claim if you’ve been involved in a lane-change accident.

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