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Who is At Fault in a Car Accident Changing Lanes?

July 21, 2021Car Accidents

A lane change is a relatively routine procedure. Most people change lanes at least once each time they get out on the roadway. However, lane changes can lead to severe accidents. Here, we want to discuss who could be at fault in the aftermath of a lane change accident in Arizona. In some cases, only one driver will be at fault for these incidents, but it is entirely possible for more than one driver to be at fault for a lane change crash.

Fault in an Arizona Lane Change Accident

When a vehicle accident occurs, a police report will usually offer an initial determination of fault. Usually, one driver is found at fault for an incident, but it could be the case that more than one driver is at fault. This can all be confusing, particularly when a crash occurs during a lane change.

When drivers are changing lanes, they are responsible for activating their turn signals in the direction that they are trying to turn. This allows other drivers in the vicinity to see what is going on, but a driver cannot complete a lane change until the area where they wish to go is cleared of traffic. This involves checking mirrors and blind spots manually.

There are various ways that a driver could be at fault for a lane change. This include if a driver:

  • Failed to activate their turn signals before they changed lanes and ended up colliding with another car.
  • Failed to properly check their mirrors or blind spots and changed lanes into another vehicle.
  • Crossed multiple lanes of traffic without stopping in each individual lane to signal their intention to move to the next lane.

When a driver changes lanes into a new lane of traffic and causes a crash, it will almost always be the case that the driver who changed lanes is at fault. However, it is entirely possible for other drivers to be responsible for a crash or for more than one driver to share responsibility for a lane change crash. This can include incidents where:

  • Two vehicles attempted to change into the same lane at the same time and sideswiped one another.
  • The driver of a vehicle already in a lane was operating recklessly, distracted, or impaired.
  • The driver already in a lane was experiencing vehicle failure of some sort, including headlight failure, brake failure, etc.
  • One driver rear-ends another vehicle after a lane change is completed, which could indicate that the driver was intoxicated, distracted, or operating too fast for conditions.

What About Merging Into a New Lane?

It is not uncommon for one driver to need to merge into different lanes of traffic when coming from one type of roadway to another, typically from a city street onto a highway or from one highway onto another highway. In a lane merging situation, any driver wishing to merge to the new type of roadway is responsible for yielding the right of way to the vehicles already on the road. When a driver is trying to merge, they have to activate their turn signal and wait for an opening in the traffic. In some cases, this means that the driver wishing to merge has to stop completely and wait.

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