This is the last installment of our critical crash prevention series. It follows the previously covered posts on loss of control crashes, run-under crashes, and rear-end crashes. As a reminder, these three types of crashes along with lane change crashes are considered critical due to the fact that they typically cause significant injuries or fatalities to the people involved, which may come from a combination of commercial vehicle operators and the general motor vehicle driving public.

Lange change crashes make up a significant number of motor vehicle crashes simply because drivers on the road are making numerous lane changes, every day. There are two leading factors that contribute to all lane change crashes: frequent lane changing, and blind spots. Let’s review the preventative measures that safety experts recommend in order to avoid these types of crashes:

1. Signal Lane Change Intentions Well in Advance

truck signal light

In general, when wanting to make a lane change, commercial truck drivers need to communicate with other motorists on the road by using their turn signal at least eight to ten seconds prior to making the lane change. Also, blind spots must be continually checked, before and during the lane change.

2. Use the “Lean and Look” Method

blind spot

This method creates a suitable environment for safe lane changes, especially right lane changes where the blind spot creates an issue. Here are the steps:

  • Signal your lane change intentions well in advance
  • Check all mirrors to ensure no vehicles are sighted
  • Lean and look to the right (this is the conventional practice) or lean forward a take a direct look to the right to ensure the lane is clear. Doing this will ensure the front right blind spot is not occupied by another vehicle.
  • Move your tractor and trailer to the right while periodically looking (by looking down and to the right).

3. Properly adjust and clean mirrors before driving

fender mounted mirror

As part of the pre-trip inspection, driver should properly adjust and clean all mirrors. It is also highly recommended that fender mounted mirrors be installed on the truck, to gain maximum visibility.

4. Always maintain a minimum 6 second following distance.

keep a safe following distance

This is a topic we have covered in the past, with our post, Safety Focus – Following Distance. Lane change accidents often occur when a driver is forced to quickly change lanes to avoid hitting another vehicle ahead. Drivers should always observe the “six second” rule, observe the posted speed limits, and stay in the right lane as much as possible to avoid having to change lanes.


5 Question Pop Quiz!!!

Test your knowledge with these true or false questions to see how familiar you are with lane change crashes (answers provided at the bottom of post).

  1. The front right blind spot is often thought of as the most critical area to check when changing lanes.
  2. Commercial drivers should use their signals to indicate lane change intentions 5 seconds before making the lane change.
  3. Fender mounted mirrors provided added visibility for a truck driver.
  4. Blind spots only need to be checked prior to making the lane change.
  5. Lane change crashes are often the result of a driving trying to avoid hitting the vehicle ahead of them.



T; 2. F; 3. T; 4. F; 5. T

How to Prevent Lane Change Crashes, With a Pop Quiz! was last modified: by