Unsafe Lane Changes and Motor Vehicle Liability

November 22, 2018

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident — car, truck, or motorcycle — in which the accident was caused by the defendant’s negligence in making an unsafe lane change, then you may be entitled to damages as compensation for your losses.  Pennsylvania law imposes liability on defendants who fail to exercise reasonable care when operating their vehicles on roadways, including those engage in unsafe activity relating to lane changes.

Let’s take a closer look.

General Rules for Lane Changes in Pennsylvania

Section 3334 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes defines the general rules applicable to turning movements and required signals.  According to statutory law, a person is prohibited from turning their vehicle or changing lanes unless and until the movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal.

Reasonable Safety

Whether the lane change can be made with “reasonable safety” is dependent on the circumstances.  For example, if there is more than 50 feet available in the next lane, and the vehicles around said space are moving at a constant speed, then the defendant might arguably make a safe lane change into that 50-foot space.  On the other hand, if there is only 10 feet available and there is a good chance that — by making the lane change movement — the defendant will strike another vehicle, or otherwise force others to come to a sudden stop to avoid a collision, then the lane change would likely be deemed unreasonable.

Signal Requirements

In Pennsylvania, all drivers must give an appropriate turn signal within a certain distance of their intended turn.

The distance changes depending on the speed at which the driver is traveling.  For speeds less than 35 miles per hour, the driver must give a turn signal at least 100 feet before their intended turn.  For speeds of 35 miles per hour or more, the driver must give a turn signal at least 300 feet before their intended turn.  If the driver fails to engage their turn signal in accordance with these statutory requirements, they will be deemed negligent (and have committed an unsafe lane change).

Contact an Experienced Bethlehem Accident Attorney for a Free and Confidential Consultation

Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys have over three decades of experience representing clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania in a wide range of personal injury litigation, including those that involve motor vehicle accidents caused by an unsafe lane change.

We are aggressive, relentless litigators who are focused on obtaining a full and adequate recovery for our clients — though we are more than capable of securing positive results during pre-litigation negotiations, we are willing and able to take a case all the way through to trial, if necessary.

Call (610) 882-1717 or send us a message online to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Bethlehem accident attorney today.