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Can You Change Lanes in an Intersection in Chicago?

Published on Apr 9, 2024 by Thomas Law Offices.

Can You Change Lanes in an Intersection in Chicago?

All drivers should be aware of general safe driving rules, including how to merge or change lanes safely, whether on city streets or major highways.

Chicago intersections are often quite busy, with vehicles crossing or making turns, plus the added dangers of pedestrians in crosswalks, so you may think that changing lanes in an intersection might be too risky.

You might be correct in thinking so, but according to Illinois state law, it is legally allowed.

Different states have different laws regarding changing lanes within intersections, so what may be breaking the law in Texas, for example, is allowable in Illinois. However, laws are in place for changing lanes within an intersection, and precautions must be taken to do so safely.

In this post, we’ll discuss Illinois laws regarding lane changes in intersections, some of the most dangerous intersections in Chicago, who might be at fault if an accident occurs, and some safe driving tips.

Illinois Lane Change Laws

Although changing lanes within an intersection is legal in the state of Illinois, there are certain caveats to this law. To ensure you are within the law while making a lane change, you must:

  • Use your turn signal: Whenever any lane change or turn is being made, according to Illinois code 625 ILCS 5/11-804, drivers must use a turn signal to indicate their intent to move.
  • Have room to change lanes: Drivers must drive entirely within a single lane as much as possible and may change lanes unless they have space to do so safely.
  • Yield right-of-way: Illinois right-of-way laws determine who is supposed to be in a lane or an intersection, and drivers who fail to yield may be held liable for any accident that occurs.
  • Not follow too closely: If a driver follows too closely to the vehicle in front of them, this could cause a rear-end collision if the driver in front needs to slow down for a merging vehicle.
  • Not suddenly stop: If a driver needs to make a sudden stop to execute a turn or to yield right-of-way for another vehicle, they must signal to the driver behind them as soon as they can.

Drivers in Illinois must have the right to enter a lane, use their turn signal before moving, and make sure there is enough space for them to move into.

However, there are some situations where the driver already in the lane may be at fault for an accident. If the driver in the lane is speeding or suddenly hits their brakes, they may be liable if a crash occurs.

Most Dangerous Intersections in Chicago

While intersection-related crashes make up only a small percentage of vehicle collisions in Chicago, they often result in higher rates of injuries or death. Some of the most dangerous intersections in Chicago are:

  • East 79th Street & South Stony Island Avenue
  • East 9th Street & South Stony Island Avenue
  • West Garfield Boulevard & South Wentworth Avenue
  • West Hubbard & North Halstead
  • West Ontario & North Orleans
  • East Chicago & North Lake Shore
  • East Wacker & North Columbus
  • East Wacker & North Michigan

Of course, any intersection can be dangerous if a driver makes a careless or reckless action. It’s best to stay aware of drivers around you and ensure you follow proper driving laws and safety.

And, if you are involved in a car accident in Chicago, Thomas Law Offices is here to help.

Determining Fault for Lane Change Accidents

To prevent lane change accidents from turning into a “he said/she said” situation, it’s best to have your lawyer and insurance investigators review the details of the accident.

Often, the damage to the vehicles will give plenty of evidence to determine what happened. However, eyewitness testimony or any dash camera footage will, of course, help your case.

Most of the time, the driver making the lane change is the one at fault. However, Illinois holds to a modified comparative fault law, which means that any driver involved in an accident may be held partially responsible.

Our state applies the 51% rule, which allows an injured victim to collect damages as long as the victim is not more at fault than the other party.

Tips for Changing Lanes in Intersections

Even with right-of-way laws in place, it’s pertinent to maintain safety on the road. The following tips can limit the risk of accidents occurring during a lane change within an intersection:

  • Prepare to change lanes in advance. You should begin to use your signal 100 to 300 feet before you plan on changing lanes.
  • Constantly check your mirrors and blind spots before, during, and even after changing lanes, to ensure that it’s safe to merge.
  • Maintain a three to four-second gap in traffic.
  • Never pass or change lanes in zones with signs prohibiting such actions. Even if it’s legally allowable to change lanes in an intersection, you still must abide by any posted signs for that intersection.
  • While still in your original lane, make sure you’re matching the speed of the lane that you are planning to change lanes into. If you can’t match the speed of the lane you’re merging into, make sure that you’ll have enough room after changing lanes to safely speed up to match traffic in that lane.
  • Only cross one lane of traffic at a time. Crossing multiple lanes of traffic without stopping in each lane and taking these precautions can lead to accidents.

It’s important to remember that even if you’re the safest driver and follow all the laws and rules, you’re not in control of other drivers’ actions.

If you’re involved in a vehicle collision in an intersection, our legal team at Thomas Law Offices can help ensure your case is taken seriously, and we’ll fight for the compensation you deserve.

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Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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