Changing Lanes: A Tutorial

There is a list floating around (I hear it’s quite massive), containing all of the various items that can be described as NOT BRAIN SURGERY.”
I am adding “changing lanes” to that list.
Despite the not-brain-surgeri-ness of it all, I will be listing instructions for this maneuver below, because if I drive to work with any of you people, you’re not doing it right.

1) Turn on appropriate turn signal.
Seriously, Springfield, a flick of the wrist to turn on the signal won’t hurt you.
It’s not a snake!
It won’t bite!
What might sting a bit is when you get rear-ended by the person behind you who either didn’t know that you were planning a similar lane shift or by someone who was frozen with shock when you suddenly chose to go careening wildly to one side or the other.
Turn your signal on a reasonable distance before your turn, and reasonable means not six blocks ahead of time, nor when you’re already halfway into the turn.
When you’re halfway into the turn, we’ve already figured it out for ourselves.

2) Do not hit your brakes.
We’re talking about switching lanes here, okay? You’re not actually executing a full turn.
So if the way is clear, and you’ve signaled your intention correctly, and then you suddenly start slowing down, there’s a chance that I’m going to come barreling at you with a metric ton of steel, fiberglass and fabric-covered seats.
You SHOULD already be obeying the posted speed limit, right?
The way SHOULD be clear before you start to move, right?
There’s no reason to knock twenty miles off your speed for this, unless you’ve had a terrible day and you’re actively trying to annoy everyone around you. No one else should have to slow down simply because you are exiting your current lane in favor of another.

3) Carefully and calmly turn the wheel in the appropriate direction.
If you are driving a sedan, an SUV, or a pickup truck, you should not have to swing out in the opposite direction to turn.
It’s in the driver’s manual.
You particularly don’t have to do this when you are changing lanes!

4) Maintain the appropriate rate of speed in your new lane.
If you slowed down to make the change, shame on you (see number 2).
If you’re that passive aggressive person who immediately hits the brakes upon introducing yourselves to a new lane just to make sure that all the cars behind you know that you’re the new sheriff in town, then I hereby toss heaping shovels full of shame, guilt, and driver’s paranoia on you from everlasting to everlasting.
It’s best to even speed up slightly if you can, just to make sure that any speed lost in transition is recovered.

Simple, no?
A baby could do it (a baby with a driver’s license, of course).

Disclaimer: As fun as bumper cars can be, a major tenant of real-world driving is to avoid smacking into your neighbor or being smacked yourself. All instructions should be adjusted to suit road conditions and the actions of the cars around you, even if they’re less attentive and well-behaved.


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