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Overtaking Another Vehicle Safely

Overtaking is a risky driving manoeuvre if you’re uncertain about how to do it safely. While overtaking is not always necessary, it is a vital driving skill to reduce and overcome possible frustrations on the road.

overtaking sign

For example, coming up behind a lorry emitting fumes or a slow-moving vehicle can be dangerous, as well as annoying if you’re heading to a time sensitive appointment.

However, before overtaking any vehicle, ensure you are not breaking any traffic laws or jeopardising the safety of other road users. Here are some things to consider ensuring all drivers overtake as safely as possible.

How to Overtake Safely
Many drivers are eager to overtake a slow vehicle or a cyclist. However, without careful planning, you can cause an accident and put other road users in danger.

Determine if overtaking is necessary:
Overtaking may be pointless if the car in front is slightly slower than the speed limit. Besides, if you leave the road on the next stop, charging past a slower car does not save you much time, but it increases your risk.

Plan before ahead any manoeuvre:
Passing another car on a busy road is risky, and you need to strategize how to execute a move safely. You will require adequate space to speed up and cross lanes when passing the vehicle ahead.

Driving an old vehicle with low motor power or heavy luggage may need extra space to accelerate for overtaking.

Check your rear-view mirrors:
You should fall back to create space for accelerating when you want to overtake. However, if the car behind overtakes you when you’re about to pass the car in front, the results can be disastrous.

As you drop back, ensure you indicate to signal the driver behind that you want to overtake.

Safely complete the manoeuvre:
Do not take your foot off the accelerator until you are safely ahead of the car you are passing and back in your lane. Keep your eyes on the road ahead to ensure there is no oncoming vehicle as you overtake.

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Rules of Overtaking
Rules 162 to 169 of the Highway Code govern the dos and don’ts of overtaking, and you must adhere to them.

Do not endanger the safety of other road users:
Carefully plan your manoeuvre to ensure you safely pass the car in front. For instance, if you slow down too soon, the space may not be sufficient to slot back in, causing the driver behind to apply their brakes.

Do not follow an overtaking vehicle:
If the vehicle in front is overtaking, do not blindly tag along without calculating the risks. Space and distance may be sufficient for one car, and you may be driving in the wrong lane with oncoming traffic!

Be cautious when overtaking at night:
With the headlights on, it can be challenging to estimate the distance and speed of vehicles.

Do not overtake on roads with solid white lines or a no-overtaking sign:
Solid white lines prohibit crossing to the other lane. Hence, you cannot overtake even if the road is clear ahead.

Give cyclists, motorcycles, and horses similar space as other vehicles:
You should respect all other road users when overtaking. If you do not give adequate space, you may cause an accident.

Be cautious when overtaking a lorry:
High vehicles like transporters delivering cars to a motor trade dealer make it challenging to see the road ahead and will take longer to overtake. You need to drop back further for a better field of view and increase the speed to cover the distance within a short time.

Finally, the general rule of thumb is overtaking can be dangerous, but a straightforward manoeuvre is safe when you follow the rules, or the road and guidelines set out in the highway code. Remember to stay alert when overtaking to avoid getting in any trouble with the law.

Besides, any road offence, including overtaking dangerously can have an impact on the price of your private or motor trade insurance policy on both new and used cars.