How to Change Lanes on your Driving Test

Changing lanes is pretty easy on the Washington state driving test, there are only a couple of things you need to remember. Whenever you change lanes, you need to do the head check procedure to check your blind spot. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Turn on your turn signal
  2. Check your side mirror
  3. Look over your shoulder to check your blind spot
  4. When safe, move into the next lane

If you forget to look over your shoulder, or if you fail to use the turn signal, you’ll definitely lose points. It’s important to look over your shoulder before you start moving into the next lane. If you start moving into the next lane before you look over your shoulder, you can lose points for that too.

How to Change Lanes on Your Driving Test

It’s best to turn on your turn signal at the beginning of the process. This tells other drivers that you are intending to change lanes. Considerate and friendly drivers will usually see your signal, and give you room to get over. Less considerate drivers might not give you any extra room, but at least they are aware that you intend to change lanes. So the first thing you should do is turn on your turn signals.

After you turn on your turn signal, briefly check your mirror, then look over your shoulder to check your blind spot. By checking your mirror, you are watching for traffic approaching behind you. This will help you avoid cutting off other drivers. Just a brief glance is all it takes.

By looking over your shoulder to check your blind spot, you are making sure that no one is right next to you. If there is a car beside you in your blind spot, you might not see them in your mirrors. Looking over your shoulder is the only way to make sure there’s nobody there.

If it’s safe to get over after you’ve looked over your shoulder, then get on over into the other lane. Look over your shoulder just long enough to make sure it is clear.

Be Aware of What is in Front of You

When you’re looking over your shoulder, you’re not looking at what is in front of you. It’s dangerous to drive that way for any length of time. Your car is still moving forward, obviously, and the general rule is to look where the car is going.

Traffic and road conditions in front of you may change suddenly and without warning. That’s why the process of checking you blind spot must be accomplished quickly. You must maintain awareness of what is in front of you, so you don’t have a nasty surprise that turns into a failed driving test.


This is a simple acronym to remember the procedure. Think of the word “SMOG”:

  • Signal
  • Mirror
  • Over the Shoulder
  • Go

This will help you remember the procedure for changing lanes on your driving test.

Check out our driving test prep courses

When I was teaching driving examiners how to give the Washington driving test, I learned the ins and outs of the test. Over time I realized that it could be simplified. If you follow a handful of simple rules and practices, and get lots of driving practice, passing the test is easy.

I used these simple rules and practices to create an online training course, Washington State Driving Test, to help you prepare to pass your driving test. Our premium version has nine video lessons that give you all of the tips and secrets to passing your test.

If you’re not ready for that yet, we also offer a free version. The free version has five lessons that show you the basics. As part of the five lessons, the free version also includes one of our premium lessons so that you can see what it’s like.