According to an estimate, at least 33% of accidents occur when one of the cars is changing lanes. In Arizona, that translates to about 42,000 accidents in 2018 alone.

You should always be patient and avoid overtaking slow drivers, but if you must overtake or change lanes when merging with traffic, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Choosing the Right Time

Having a planned route and knowing when to switch lanes is better than the impromptu swerving. Observe the traffic around you carefully, the number of cars in all lanes and their relative speeds, paying more attention to the lane you want to switch to. Take your time and don’t rush these steps.

Next, look for a gap between the two cars you want to get in between. Make sure there’s a gap of at least 15% of your car length. The general rule is: higher speeds require larger gaps.

If the traffic is slow, the gap will be shorter. In that case, use your indicator and begin merging slowly. The car behind you will slow down to give you the way.

Also, to be safe follow the two-second rule for the car in front.


Use both the side mirrors and the rear view mirror to look for other cars before changing lanes. Take a quick glance in each to get an idea of the traffic pattern.

Don’t delay turning the indicator on until the last minute. Other drivers need time to notice and register your signal.

Take a note of the other drivers’ speeds in the lane you want to merge into and match it. Don’t make other drivers slow down because you need to merge lanes.

If a driver speeds up when you have the indicator turned on, wait for them to pass before continuing with your lane change. You can’t force the merge as other drivers have the right of way.

When changing lanes, make sure to glance over your shoulder briefly and check your blind spot. Often times, motorcyclists in the blind spot cannot be spotted easily.

Post Merging

The first thing you need to do is turn off your indicator to avoid confusing other drivers. Then make sure you’ve maintained an appropriate gap between other cars.


For more tips on changing lanes or just driving in general, contact Jacob’s Driving School. They’re located in Paradise Valley, Arizona and provide lessons for beginners and experienced drivers.

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