When changing lanes don't force traffic behind you to tailgate

Forced tailgating

I hope most drivers subscribe to the “two-second” rule under good driving conditions and increase the following distance when the situation is not ideal.

It certainly makes sense to leave sufficient room between your vehicle and the one you are following to create a safety margin. Why then do some drivers make lane changes that force the driver behind them to be a tailgater?

When I was being taught to drive, the instructor said I was not to make a lane change until I could see all of the front of the vehicle behind me in my centre rearview mirror. That would insure there was a safe distance between us when I did move over in front of the other driver. Unfortunately, it appears this has been forgotten by, or is not being taught to, drivers today.

Leaving enough space before changing lanes in front of a semi is critical for safety. Heavy commercial vehicles can have as little as 50% of a light vehicle's braking ability. For this reason alone, you do not want to be in the “No Zone” in front of a truck.

All too often I am cruising in the right lane at the speed limit when I am overtaken by another driver who may or may not signal before jamming their vehicle in front of me about two vehicle lengths away. I have to drop back to maintain my space cushion and this becomes especially difficult if the driver behind is tailgating me.

A driver must not drive from one lane to another unless the driver has ascertained movement can be made safely and will in no way affect the travel of another vehicle. That requirement is straight forward. If I have to slow to maintain safe following distance after you change lanes in front of me, you are in violation.

Step by step:

• Decide well in advance that you want to change lanes. Look ahead for potential problem areas.

• Mirror check to see if there’s a safe gap in traffic.

• Signal and shoulder check.

• Steer steadily into the other lane, looking ahead in the direction you want to go. Keep at least a two-second distance behind the vehicle in front of you.

• Maintain your speed as you change lanes.

• Straighten and centre yourself in the lane.

• Make sure your turn signal is off.

Remember, half the driving world is in your rearview mirror and deserves as much of your consideration as the half in front of your windshield.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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