Expressways in Chicago have a reputation for being fast, hectic, and dangerous. The highways in and around the city are chaotic and congested, with cars weaving through traffic at high speeds. While driving down the Dan Ryan or Eisenhower, you may have wondered which lane (if any) is safest for drivers. The answer can be complicated.
Stay to the Right
When a highway is divided into two or more lanes in one direction, vehicles have their choice of lanes. Choosing the correct lane while driving can avoid accidents and traffic tickets. In general, the safest course of action when driving is to follow the rules of the road and stay to the right.
Illinois state statute § 625 ILCS 5/11-701 requires motorists to stay out of the left lane except to pass or overtake another vehicle. Staying in the right lane allows faster vehicles to pass safely without slowing down or swerving out of the way and helps maintain the steady flow of traffic. In the event of an upcoming collision or obstruction, staying to the right allows drivers to move off the road onto the shoulder rather than into surrounding traffic.
Driving in the right lane is also safer because traffic typically moves slower. Speed is one of the most significant factors in how severe an accident is, and traveling slower reduces the risk of serious injury. Finally, staying toward the right will help prevent accidents in the case of vehicle trouble or inclement weather. Drivers in the right lane can slow down or move to the shoulder in case of an emergency without crossing several lanes of traffic to get to safety.
Fewer Dangers on the Left
While the law may require drivers to stay in the right lane in most circumstances, the right lane may not be the safest lane for drivers. Usually, fewer accidents happen when traveling in the left lane. This happens for several reasons. First, the left lanes generally have fewer cars overall and fewer semi-trucks and large vehicles. Less congestion can mean fewer opportunities for accidents.
More importantly, most exits and merging points are located in the right lane. Merging is one of the most hazardous activities that cause accidents. A driver who thinks they may miss their exit could cut off another car or make dangerous maneuvers to get to the far-right lane. Or, drivers who are entering the expressway from the right may not get up to speed in time and could pull out in front of faster traffic. Drivers making mistakes while entering, exiting, or moving into traffic cause many of the most serious highway accidents.
While there may be fewer chances for an accident in the left lane, collisions that happen there are more deadly than those in the right lanes. People are traveling faster in the left lanes, which can make accidents more severe. In addition, drivers may be unable to avoid a collision by swerving without running into surrounding traffic or highway barriers.
Staying Safe on the Highway
No matter which lane you choose when driving on the expressway, it is up to you to maintain awareness of your surroundings and drive safely. Driving defensively and anticipating the actions of others is the best way to avoid collisions and stay safe on the road. Make sure when traveling on the expressway that you always check your blind spots and are aware of people entering and exiting traffic from both sides of you. Avoid distractions like eating in your vehicle, using a cell phone, or grabbing items from the back seat. Be prepared for others to make unexpected maneuvers and maintain enough space between your vehicle and the cars around you to stop safely if required. If you are in a car accident, make sure to pull your vehicle as far to the shoulder (or other safe location) as possible. Try to avoid stopping anywhere that makes your situation more dangerous and call for help immediately.
After you are safe, contact the experienced Illinois personal injury attorneys at Cullotta Bravo Law Firm. Our knowledgeable team can review the circumstances of your accident, help you with your insurance claims, or file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. We can help you and your family recover the compensation you need to get back to normal after a car accident. Call 630-898-7800 or contact us online today to learn more about how we can help you.