Changing Lanes In an Intersection – Why you shouldn’t

(Last Updated On: December 7, 2015)

Q: Is it legal to change lanes in an intersection in BC? 

 

There is no law that says you can’t lane change inside an intersection

 

This is a common question among drivers. There is no law that says you can’t lane change inside an intersection, but this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Changing lanes in – or near – an intersection is potentially dangerous and should generally be avoided as a matter of habit. If you take a look at the common intersection you will often find a solid white line (it’s illegal to cross solid white lines) near the approach of intersections to discourage lane changing near them. Here’s a few reasons why:

 

Reasons

 

Let us consider just one of the many possible scenarios. Say the red car is driving along and not leaving an adequate following distance of 2-3 seconds, and then car in front decides at the last minute to turn on the left turn signal and turn left. This leaves the average impatient driver checking his mirror to see if he can go around to avoid waiting for the car in front to turn left. (If he had had more following distance and kept track  of other vehicles around his constantly, as well as maintained space around his vehicle, he may have been able to change lanes well before the intersection before getting stuck in this situation).

 

Oncoming Left Turning Vehicles

 

NoChangeLanesinIntersection

 

Maybe the most common risk would be the oncoming left-turning vehicle who does not anticipate the red car suddenly ‘appearing’ into the intersection after the driver already mistakenly ascertained that it was safe to turn left; or a conflict with this left-turning car as the light turns yellow and it is trying to exit the intersection.

 

A reminder to all drivers that when turning left if you don’t have good visibility then simply do not turn. If you are only 99% sure that it is safe then you should still not turn; wait until either you can see or until the light changes to yellow or red and you are 120% sure it is safe.

 

The oncoming left turning driver can not see you

 

NoChangeLanesinIntersection2

 

The red car could have a problem with the yellow car who decides to turn right on the red light. From the yellow car’s point of view that right lane is free and clear and it is a perfectly acceptable time to turn right.

 

The right turning car does not anticipate you

 

NoChangeLanesinIntersection3

 

The parked car does not anticipate you

 

The red car could even have a potential conflict with a parked vehicle that decides it’s a good time to pull away from the curb and drive down the road through the inviting and alluring green light. A car could also ‘appear’ out of a driveway, lane, or parking lot that lines up perfectly with the blind spot of the red car just as he’s about to lane change.

 

NoChangeLanesinIntersection4

 

I could go on about this but I think the basic concept can be understood.

 

The recurring problem that leads to collisions here is 2 cars trying to enter the same space at the same time, and drivers who do not anticipate the actions – or the existence – of others. There can be a lot going on in an intersection and for these reasons, it is highly recommended not to change lanes anywhere near an intersection. Also, thinking from the point of view of others can go a long way to keep you safe. Where do the other cars think you’re going to go? If you were that other car, what would you be thinking? Whenever there is poor visibility, always assume there is probably traffic where you can not see, rather than assuming there is probably nothing there.

Changing lanes in or near an intersection : Just don’t do it.

Read more:

DriveSmartBC: Changing lanes at or Near an Intersection 

DriveSmartBC: Changing lanes in Intersections

 

Many moons ago, Carmen became an ICBC-approved driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, and has spent many years working with new and experienced drivers around the lower mainland. She can be found reading the Motor Vehicle Act for fun while receiving strange looks from others. May the quest for great driving continue!