The Illinois Vehicle Code prohibits drivers from making improper lane changes in a wide variety of scenarios. Motorists who fail to follow these rules put others on the road at risk. Those motorists will also face legal liability if an improper lane change causes an accident resulting in personal injuries.
If you or a loved one sustains an injury in an accident caused by a motorist who made an improper lane change, then you likely have rights under Illinois law to recover compensation. Contact the experienced Chicago car accident lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. to learn more.
What are Illinois Lane Change Laws?
Changing lanes is something motorists often do without thinking. It’s part of the normal flow of traffic on any road. It should be done with care and in a manner that other motorists can anticipate and react to. Here are some important provisions of Illinois law that govern how to make a proper lane change.
Change lanes safely
Illinois law states that when driving on a road with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction, “a vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.” Drivers must also obey all lane markings. This includes those that restrict or prohibit changing lanes in certain areas (such as in construction zones).
Use your turn signal
A turn signal should be used before changing lanes and failing to do so can be dangerous. It can surprise motorists in other lanes. Further, it can cause those motorists to over-brake, swerve, or engage in other erratic driving behavior. All of this can lead to accidents.
Yield when merging
There is a duty to yield when merging. It’s improper to change lanes aggressively and without regard for other vehicles when merging. Specifically, “at an intersection where traffic lanes are provided for merging traffic the driver of each vehicle on the converging roadways is required to adjust his vehicular speed and lateral position so as to avoid a collision with another vehicle.” In other words, the driver of a car entering a highway, for example, from an on-ramp with a merge lane must yield to the vehicles already on the highway. Likewise, the cars in the general flow of traffic must facilitate the merging traffic joining the general flow. They should, if possible, change lanes to give the merging traffic space.
No left turns from outside lanes
The law states that “the driver of a vehicle intending to turn left at any intersection shall approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available”. Further, that driver must stay in that lane through the turn. Likewise, “where a special lane for making left turns by drivers proceeding in opposite directions has been indicated by official traffic-control devices...a left turn shall not be made from any other lane.” These rules seek to prevent accidents by stopping drivers from cutting off vehicles in left turn lanes.
Sometimes you have to change lanes on multi-lane roads. This, to move further away from any stopped emergency vehicle, a disabled vehicle, or a work zone, when it is safe to do so. If the driver cannot safely change lanes, then he must slow down. The purpose of this rule is to reduce the risk of a collision with a stationary vehicle or a pedestrian.
What Should I Do After an Improper Lane Change Accident?
Drivers who violate Illinois law by making an improper lane change run the risk of causing an accident. This could harm other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Here are some tips if you have been involved in an accident caused by another driver who improperly changed lanes.
- Report the accident to authorities immediately. This will ensure an accurate and timely record of the accident has been made. You want the record to reflect that the accident was due to an improper lane change.
- Collect information on your own. Take photographs or cell-phone video, exchanging contact information with the other driver(s), taking note of any nearby traffic or security cameras, and collect contact information from any witnesses.
- Seek appropriate medical attention, even if you doubt your injuries are serious. It is sometimes difficult to know, in the immediate aftermath of an accident, the severity of an injury. Get checked out by a medical professional to protect your health and ensure the preservation of accurate records of any injury and how it happened.
- Consult an experienced auto accident attorney to explore whether you have a claim. You may have the right to seek compensation from the motorist who improperly changed lanes and caused your injury. Every accident is different and there are no guarantees, but you will likely be able to recover your medical expenses, lost wages, and your pain and suffering. Call an improper lane change accident attorney in Chicago before speaking with an auto insurance company.
Do not wait to do any of the items above. All of them become more difficult to accomplish as time passes. This can reduce the likelihood that you will recover the compensation you deserve. In fact, if you wait too long, then you may lose your rights to compensation altogether.
Should you Hire a Chicago Car Accident Attorney?
Contact Abels & Annes today if you have sustained injuries or lost a loved one in a car accident involving a driver who changed lanes improperly. The sooner you contact us, the better the chances we will be able to help you gather evidence, pursue insurance claims, and recover the maximum compensation you deserve. Contact us today online or call us at (312) 924-7575.
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