Dude suddenly stops in front of me, what to do

I am a new driver and I had this near accident experience (fortunately my only one so far) and I am not sure whether I reacted correctly or not. Would like some feedback. Thank you.

I was in the left lane of a two lane blvd going with the traffic flow at about 40 mph (35 speed limit). The car directly in front of me suddenly slows down and pulls over to the grassy center median to talk to someone standing there. WTF. Half his car was in the lane so no matter what I had to get at least partially out of my lane.

At this point I had a car close directly behind me and a car also close behind me in the right lane. In a split second decision I stepped on the gas and went into the right lane without signaling. Essentially I cut the car off even though I didn’t mean to. The driver didn’t honk me or seem angry when I checked in the rear view mirror afterwards when we were both stopped at a red light but I felt like I might have fxxxed up.

The alternative was to slow down to let the right-lane car pass before I changed lane, but in the little time I had I could not see whether that car had other cars close behind and I was worried the car behind me would hit me.

I could see the right-lane car’s headlights in my right sideview mirror so that’s why I chose to accelerate to get in front.

I asked my friends for advice but they were divided. Most felt it was safer to slow down or stop.

What do you guys think? It was my judgment in that split second that it was safer to accelerate and cut the car off than to slow down and risk between hit from behind. But I can’t be sure I made the right decision. I should have been more aware how much traffic was behind me on the right lane.

I think if I could do it all over again, I would signal right immediately to let the car on the right lane a chance to slow down and give me more room to change lane.But I was shocked to see the asshole in front of me stop to chat with his buddy that I probably wasted a good second and a half so I had to switch lane immediately.

I don’t think that you did anything wrong, because in order to take the type of evasive action needed to avoid a collision, it is sometimes necessary to do things that you normally wouldn’t do behind the wheel.

But…that being said…unless you were either passing vehicles in the right lane, or if you were preparing to make a left turn w/in the next few blocks, you shouldn’t have been in the left lane.

Were you passing other vehicles?
Were you preparing to make a left turn?

If you can stop in the same lane, you should. Then honk to get the car in front to move off the road, or go around when it is safe to do so. Evasive action should only be done to avoid an accident, and it doesn’t seem that this is the case here. BTW, when I say “honk”, I mean as an alert that someone else is on the road, not a really long “you idiot” honk, even though the latter is probably deserved. Don’t up the ante on road rage.

The part about ( I might have xxxxxx up ) should be edited.

If there wasn’t a car close behind me I think I would definitely have slowed down and stopped if necessary but I was worried the car behind me would hit me so I did what I did.

And yes, I should have driven in the right lane. What happened was earlier there was a van that was straddling the right lane and the bus lane and going really slow (perhaps some kid learning to drive from parents). So I passed him and went to the left lane, and I should have just moved back to the right lane right away, but I didn’t and ended up following the car that eventually stopped. One red light later, the cars in the right lane caught up, creating the set up to what happened.

Just glad no collision happened and I hope to learn some lessons from this.

If Your Lane Is Obstructed, And The Right Lane Traffic Doesn’t Allow For A Safe Lane Change, Then It Is Your Obligation To Stop Short Of The Obstruction.

If There Isn’t Time To Stop Normally, And You Must Make A Panic Stop, Or Make A Panic Dart To The Other Lane, Because The Jerk In Front Stops Suddenly, Then You Must Realize It’s Mother Nature’s Way Of Telling You That You Are Tailgating Or Following Too Closely.

Leave lots of space between you and the car ahead. If cars fill in your space then slow immediately and create new space.

Jerks on the road are a normal part of the driving experience. Feel the magic!


But...that being said...unless you were either passing vehicles in the right lane, or if you were preparing to make a left turn w/in the next few blocks, you shouldn't have been in the left lane.
No, actually, "keep right, pass left" only applies to (non-congested) limited-access highways. Legally...and intuitively. Would you "keep right except to pass" on Broadway Ave in Manhattan? (Or would you "keep left except to double park/drop off passengers?")

“And yes, I should have driven in the right lane…and I hope to learn some lessons from this.”

The good news is that no collision took place and the added good news is that you acknowledge your mistake in riding the left lane. Increasingly over the past decade or so, we seem to be saddled with more and more people who appear to be ignorant of the “keep to the right, pass to the left” laws, and this reality is more than a mere inconvenience for others. It is actually a process by which otherwise avoidable accidents can take place.

If you have now learned that you should drive in the right lane unless you are passing another vehicle, or unless you are preparing to make a left turn, then your close call did accomplish something good. I would add that it is always important to maintain a “safety zone” around your vehicle by not driving next to other cars, by passing them as rapidly as possible, and by always trying to have an “escape route” if your lane is blocked.

Everything in life has the potential to be a learning experience, and it appears that you have learned a few things from this close call.

Yes, it seems you were following too closely to the car ahead of you, an all-too-common mistake. Take this as a wakeup call to keep more distance between you and the car ahead.

Yes, I know that most other drivers drive too close, but don’t drive like them, drive responsibly.

All too often good drivers must make split second decisions due to inconsiderate and wreckless drivers who we must all share the road with. I hope some of those around you in that situation appreciate your attention and quick thinking that saved them from possibly being involved. And if in the future you consider how quickly that near miss occurred and drop back another car length you can consider it a 2-fer.

In town the ‘keep right’ guidance doesn’t really apply. You did learn the importance of making the best of the situation, avoiding a collision is the best option, often times people don’t make full use of their car’s steering wheel!

Again…sorry but here’s the facts:

§ 3313. Restrictions on use of limited access highways. ... (d) Driving in right lane.-- (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) and unless otherwise posted, upon all limited access highways having two or more lanes for traffic moving in the same direction, all vehicles shall be driven in the righthand lanes when available for traffic except when any of the following conditions exist: (i) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction. (ii) When traveling at a speed greater than the traffic flow. (iii) When moving left to allow traffic to merge. (iv) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection, exit or into a private road or driveway when such left turn is legally permitted.
Notice that this law falls wholly under "limited access highways?" Thankfully, there's no need to "drive right except to pass" on a 35MPH 4-lane, on your way to the grocery store.

Had a Lady stop in the Hammer lane on interstate because a truck cut Her off,why didnt she go on?Who knows,luckily I was going probaly 10 mph below the speed limit to start with,but the old company truck had marginal brakes and the bridge surface didnt provide much stopping authority,so the poor little girl who was stuck behind the Suburban,was the one who suffered the most(Her Hyundai Accent was totaled-believe it or not,it looked like you could still drive it,She suffered a little shoulder belt rash on Her shoulder)but the Person who caused the accident got a minor scratch on Her bumper,wasnt charged and got to drive away,the trooper gave Me a ticket for following too closely,my friends said the old 4 door pickup probaly had room to stop safely if the brakes had been top notch …So you have to be more then careful sometimes a moments inattention can cause severe repercussions.From there on out,I let other people drive the company junk(this vehicle was finally totaled in West Virginia.)Now the moral of the story for Me is,I let someone else do the driving if possible,I derive no pleasure from driving nowadays.Remember you cant help what the other Guy does.

I dunno. You do what you have to do to avoid an accident but be sure to take a defensive driving course at your first opportunity. They will dissect and discuss situations like this at length.

One of the best courses I had was in Army basic training where the importance of providing free space on all sides of you was emphasized. That means not following too close so you have time to react to changing conditions. Not driving in the left lane so you have nowhere else to go. Trying to keep free space on the sides of you so you are not blocked in. Easier said than done but still good to keep in mind as a goal.

Others will argue about the ability to do this in traffic but I have found keeping a 5 car distance in heavy traffic on the freeway avoids the need for emergency actions and keeps traffic moving along a lot better. Everyone clustering together bumper to bumper insures stop and go driving.

A new driver should try to be in the far right lane as much as possible, there is usually a shoulder to move to for car trouble or accident avoidance . So what if the traffic pace is less than the other lanes ? Arriving home 5 or 10 minutes later is better than an hour late because you crashed.

Bing has essentially capsulized my philosophy.
And, in case anyone doubts this philosophy, the last time that I had a MV accident was in 1971.

Even with that enviable driving record, I take a Defensive Driving course every 3 years in order to keep my already low insurance costs as low as possible. AARP charges me $15 for that course, and it reduces my insurance costs by $40 per year over a 3 year period. Ergo…a very good value, and I sometimes pick up some new pointers from those classes.

All of the possible driving scenarios are one-at-a-time and un-predictable AND, no matter how much we talk about them ( I’ve told my 16 year old learning driver this ) you’ll never know how you’ll react till it happens.
AND…it won’t happen the same way next time
— you did one thing right that too few people even think of ( when you don’t have time to think )…
— accelerating ----
…is often the answer to accident AVOIDANCE . ( I could tell a couple stories that are not statistics since there was no accident )

The other thing you did right ( that too many don’t ).
AWARENESS of the actions and occurances happenings around you.
Glancing at the three mirrors every few seconds keeps you aware of the possibilities because there won’t be time to do that…you kind of already need to know.

Now… ( as a newbie )
as you drive…
run some scenarios in your head as you see ahead of you the ‘‘what-ifs’’ playing out.
These sub-conscious ideas will be what spits out in the split second of the next one.

An in-city boulevard has no shoulder, and no need to stay right. Lots of right turners in that lane.

Sorry to have to tell you this, but if you have to make an emergency evasive action because the guy in front of you stopped, than you’re following too closely. You should be four seconds behind the car in front of you, enough time to react safely.

See, I’d view “safe following distance” as “pass/fail”: either you can get stopped in time, or you can’t. OP earned a passing grade.