Lane Changes | Using the S.M.O.G Technique

| Driving Tips for New Drivers |

Changing lanes is a fundamental driving skill that, when executed correctly, ensures smooth traffic flow and enhances road safety. For novice drivers, lane changing can be a nerve-wracking experience, but with the right technique, it becomes a simple and safe maneuver. One of the most effective methods to ensure a safe lane change is the S.M.O.G technique, an acronym that stands for Signal, Mirrors, Over-the-shoulder, Go/Glide. Let’s break down these steps to understand how to change lanes safely and confidently.

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Understanding Lane Changes Using the S.M.O.G Technique

S – Signal

The first step in changing lanes is to signal your intention to other drivers. Activating your turn signal at least 3-5 seconds before you start the lane change gives other drivers and pedestrians time to anticipate your move and react accordingly. This is not just a courtesy; it’s a crucial safety measure.

M – Mirrors

After signaling, the next step is to check your mirrors. Start with your rearview mirror to assess the traffic directly behind you. Then, check the side mirror on the side you intend to move towards. This helps you gauge the speed and position of vehicles in the adjacent lane and ensures that you have enough space to change lanes safely.

O – Over-the-Shoulder

The mirror checks are essential, but they cannot cover all blind spots. Therefore, the next critical step is to glance over your shoulder in the direction of the lane change. This over-the-shoulder check, also known as a head check, allows you to directly see areas that your mirrors can’t cover, ensuring that the lane is clear.  Blind spot is usually the space beside your back tires.

G – Go / Glide (only when safe)

Once you’ve signaled, checked your mirrors, and looked over your shoulder to confirm that the lane is clear, you’re ready to change lanes. Do this smoothly and steadily, without sudden or sharp movements. Keep an eye on the traffic in front of you as well, to maintain a safe distance from the car ahead as you change lanes.

Additional Tips for Smooth Lane Changes Using the S.M.O.G Technique

  • Timely Planning: Plan your lane changes well in advance, especially when you know your exit or turn is coming up. Last-minute lane changes can be risky.
  • Speed Adjustment: Maintain an appropriate speed when changing lanes. Ensure that your speed matches or is close to the flow of the traffic in the lane you’re entering.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Keep monitoring the situation as you change lanes. Sometimes, vehicles’ speeds can change suddenly or someone else might also decide to move into the same lane.  The middle rearview is the best mirror to monitor traffic behind you while lane changing.
  • Avoid Aggression: Be patient and avoid aggressive maneuvers. If you miss your chance to change lanes safely, wait for the next opportunity rather than forcing your way in.
  • Use of Turn Signals: Always turn off your signal after you’ve completed the lane change. Ensure that all four of your vehicle’s tires are in the new lane before turning your signal off.  This avoids confusion among other road users about your intentions.

Lane Changes | Using the S.M.O.G Technique

Mastering lane changes is a skill that improves with practice. By consistently applying the S.M.O.G technique, you’ll not only make lane changes more safely but also become a more considerate and responsible driver. Remember, every maneuver on the road impacts not just your safety but also the safety of others around you. Drive safe and be mindful of the simple yet powerful steps of S.M.O.G for every lane change.

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