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Improper Lane Change Accidents

improper lane change

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 their improper lane change causes an accident resulting in personal injuries and/or property damage.


If you or a loved one sustained 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 car accident lawyers at Ables & Annes, PC to learn more.


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. Because changing lanes is such a routine maneuver, it should be done with care and in a manner that other motorists can anticipate and react to. Here are some of the most important provisions of Illinois law that govern how to make a proper lane change.


  • Lane changes must be safe/drivers must obey lane markings. 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, including those that restrict or prohibit changing lanes in certain areas (such as in construction zones).

  • Turn signal required. A turn signal “must be used to indicate an intention to ... change lanes.” Changing lanes without having first signaled is dangerous because it takes motorists approaching from the rear and those who have just been passed by surprise. This can cause those motorists to over-brake, swerve, and engage in other erratic driving behavior, which can lead to accidents.

  • Duty to yield and take care at road merges. 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, say, from an on-ramp with a merge lane can’t merge into the main flow of traffic without taking care of the vehicles already in that flow. Likewise, the cars in the general flow of traffic must facilitate the merging traffic joining the general flow, and should if possible change lanes to give the merging traffic space.

  • No left turns from outside lanes. “The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left at any intersection shall approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available” and 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 protect against drivers in lanes other than the left-most lane cutting off vehicles in lanes to the left of them and causing accidents.

  • Improper failure to change lanes also a violation. On a highway with at least two lanes of traffic going in each direction, a driver must change lanes to move further away from any stopped emergency vehicle, disabled vehicle, or 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, obviously, is to reduce the risk of a collision with a stationary vehicle or a pedestrian.


What to Do After an Improper Lane Change Accident

Drivers who violate an Illinois driving law by making an improper lane change run the risk of causing an accident that harms 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, and to your insurance company, to ensure an accurate and timely record of the accident has been made that reflects how the accident resulted from someone else’s improper lane change.

  • Collect information on your own, including by taking photographs or cell-phone video, exchanging contact information with the other driver(s), taking note of any nearby security cameras that may have captured the accident, and collecting contact information from any witnesses.

  • Seek appropriate medical attention, even if you doubt you’ve been injured seriously (or that you’ve been injured at all). It is difficult to know, in the immediate aftermath of an accident, whether you’ve gotten hurt. 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 the right to seek compensation from the motorists who improperly changed lanes and caused your injury. Every accident is different and there are no guarantees, but you may be able to recover damages for your uninsured medical expenses, you lost wages from time off work, and your pain and suffering.


Do not wait to do any of the items above. All of them become more difficult to accomplish as time passes, which 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.


Your Chicago Car Accident Attorneys

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. Mówimy Po Polsku. Hablamos Español.


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