How to Overtake Safely

Overtaking on the motorway

When you cruise along single-lane roads in the United Kingdom, you will inevitably find yourself behind a much slower vehicle. Whether it is a heavy lorry having trouble going up a hill, a learner driver, a tractor moving at a very slow speed, or a little old lady taking her time in her old car, there will come a time when you need to overtake the vehicle in front of you.

One of the skills that drivers need to learn is how to overtake safely, especially on single-lane roads. More often than not, drivers don’t think about the consequences and just push their foot to the metal and pull across the road. Then just as fast as they switch lanes, they swerve back to their original lane. When overtaking, it is important to do it properly and in a safe manner. Below are the steps to help you overtake safely.

Do You Really Need to Overtake the Vehicle?

This is the first question you need to answer before doing anything else. There are instances in which you overtake a slower vehicle, only to leave the road for a petrol station within a minute or at the next junction. Overtaking in those instances didn’t do anything except save a couple of seconds. At the same time, it increased the risks of a collision, added some extra wear to the tyres and brake pads, and wasted fuel. If you are not staying on the road for long, it’s best to remain behind the slower vehicle.

Plan the Overtaking Manoeuvre

It is important to plan your move before overtaking. The manoeuvre requires space for you to build up speed, switch lanes, overtake the car, go back to the original lane, and return to the normal speed. A long stretch of straight road is ideal when overtaking. If you try to over a car with limited visibility and space, it can only lead to a disaster.

You must also know what your car can do when overtaking. If your car is loaded with passengers or luggage, or you don’t have a powerful motor, then you will need more space to build up the speed to overtake the car in front.

Another thing to consider is the line markings of the road. Solid lines don’t allow overtaking, and they are in place for a reason. There may be a hidden danger that can’t be seen from afar such as a hidden driveway. You should respect road markings at all times.

Prepare to Overtake

If you don’t have enough power to go faster in order to overtake the vehicles in front of you, then don’t try overtaking. You need to let your car have some space for the run-up before switching lanes and starting the overtaking manoeuvre.

You should keep your eye on your rear view mirrors while overtaking. If you see a car trying to pass you when you drop back before overtaking, you should signal that you are going to overtake. You should indicate your intention before the action and not while doing the overtaking manoeuvre. You should be clear about your intentions and not let the car behind you guess.

Start the Move

Once you have determined the road is safe for overtaking, you should do it quick. You should check the road and the rear view mirror at all times. If you see a car behind trying to overtake your car or an oncoming car, you should consider bailing out and go back to your lane.

Passing the Slower Car and Pulling Back into Right Lane

You should keep accelerating until you have passed the slower car. It is important to complete the overtaking manoeuvre properly as well. You should not pull back into the lane until the overtaken car is fully in the rear view mirror.

When Overtaken

If you are being overtaken, you should be courteous to the other driver. Be sure to cooperate in order to keep you and the overtaking car safe. You should neither speed up nor slow down. Once the car has overtaken yours, you can now decelerate if you want to. That way there will be plenty of space for the overtaking car to pull back into the lane.