Overtaking is one of the most dangerous manoeuvres you can carry out on the road and it’s not taught as part of the driving test. Many drivers find the idea of overtaking daunting or are unsure how to do it safely, while some drivers will never attempt to do it at all.
Although there are no circumstances where an overtake is essential, coming up behind a slower moving vehicle and having to reduce speed can be a frustrating experience.
Most drivers will be eager to overtake a lorry emitting fumes, a cyclist or agricultural vehicle spilling hay, all these situations require consideration and planning to ensure it is done in a safe and courteous manner. The Highway Code states that you may overtake when it is safe and legal to do so, but before overtaking it’s important to understand the potential dangers and how to reduce them.
Look out for hazards ahead and don’t overtake if there is potential danger from oncoming traffic, a blind bend, the brow of a hill, or a junction where the car you are following could turn off. Pay attention to the road markings as longer centre line dashes indicate an upcoming hazard.
You must not overtake if there is a solid white line on your side of the road, a double white line indicates neither lane of traffic can overtake.
A solid line on your side of the road and a dotted line on the other side, means cars coming the other way can overtake, but you cannot. If you do overtake when approaching a road section with a solid white line, you must return to your own side of the road before the solid line begins.
Bad weather conditions also increase the risks around overtaking, for example, wet roads mean it will take longer to stop if something goes wrong.
Fog, rain, and snow will also reduce visibility, whilst side winds increase the danger of swerving into another vehicle.
For long high vehicles, like the car carriers you see delivering to motor trade dealers, it’s best to keep a safe distance before overtaking rather than follow too closely, this provides a better view of the road ahead.
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It’s also important to understand your car’s performance. Does it have enough power and speed to complete the manoeuvre? New and used cars will no doubt perform differently from each other, and a heavily loaded car with passengers will accelerate more slowly.
You should aim to keep the time you spend on the wrong side of the road to a minimum and stay within the speed limit if overtaking, failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £2,500 and six penalty points!
It’s worth considering that overtaking is a dangerous manoeuvre and not strictly necessary, not only could you live to regret receiving this type of driving conviction, it could massively effect any insurance policy.
Always plan and consider driving manoeuvres carefully, stay within the law consider other road users, drive safely.