The current thought on forming habits, good or bad, is that it takes at least thirty days of repetition before a habit is ingrained within the mind of an adult. For drivers, good driving habits are the key to keeping both themselves and others on the road safe, but bad habits can form without the driver even being aware of it. 62% of those who drive in manners considered to be unsafe or illegal have responded in a survey that they have not been stopped by the police for traffic violations within the past year. Those statistics are stunning, considering that car and truck accidents injure 3 million people every year. That means that anyone of that 62 % of drivers could be the cause of a wreck due to unsafe driving habits that they have had a year or longer to form. The question then becomes, “How can I protect myself when I'm on the road?”
Forming good habits starts with understanding where bad habits begin. Unsafe lane changes are an undeniably dangerous habit and one that could lead to serious injury or death. 33% of all fatal car and truck accidents are caused by reckless driving. That means a full one-third of major wrecks, including commercial truck accidents, are caused by bad habits, such as unsafe lane changes, speeding, and a lack of observance of proper driving etiquette. To protect yourself and the passengers of your vehicle, you must always remember to observe all rules regarding lane changes.
Why Do Unsafe Lane Changes Happen?
Driving on our shared roadways requires shared trust. You need to be able to trust that the drivers to your left, right, forward, and behind are competent behind the wheel, but you also need to drive as if they are not. While defensive driving can be key in avoiding serious accidents, it may not always protect you from accidents that you yourself cause. Some of the common causes for an unsafe lane change include:
- Texting or speaking into a cell phone while driving.
- Eating while driving.
- Weather conditions and a driver unprepared to respond to them.
- Fatigue of the driver, or intoxication.
- Failure to use the proper turn signal.
- Failure to properly align rearview mirrors.
- Distraction caused by passengers.
Any one of these problems could lead to the vehicle drifting, which could result in a wreck. Attorneys that are responsible for these cases are well aware that in cases where more than one vehicle is involved, there is also the potential for liability to be shifted from one party to another. The best way to protect yourself, legally, is to document any accident that you are involved in, including details of unsafe lane changes to the fullest extent that you remember them. If you see another driver making an unsafe lane change, then it is best to give them as much room as possible without endangering any driver that may be behind you. If that unsafe lane change results in damage to your vehicle, then it might be time to speak with an attorney.
As an attorney would point out, any driver who is distracted by cell phones, food, or conversation is still liable for the damages that they have caused. Because the most common type of unsafe lane changes is those that go across several lanes at the same time, it is very likely that traffic violations have taken place.
What to Do If You Are Involved
If you are involved in an accident that has been caused by another driver making an unsafe lane change, then the first thing to do is to make sure that everyone in your vehicle is okay. You will then need to ensure that your own vehicle can, if possible and safe to do so, move out of the way of oncoming traffic. Call 911 immediately, and document all details surrounding the accident. If you have further questions about your legal liability and recommended a course of action, it is best to speak with a lawyer.