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How safe is your overtaking?

As a driver, one of the most dangerous manoeuvres that you may need to make on the road is overtaking another moving vehicle.

Whether the slow-moving vehicle that you want to overtake is learner driver, a heavy lorry on a hill, an older driver driving cautiously or a tractor there are always occasions when you will need to overtake. There are some basic rules that you should follow when it comes to overtaking to make sure that you do it properly and most importantly, safely.

  • Before you overtake

  • Check that the road ahead is clear

  • Make sure nobody is trying to overtake you

  • Check there is a suitable gap in front of the vehicle you are planning to overtake

No overtaking road sign

To overtake successfully you need plenty of space, you will be speeding up, crossing lanes, passing the car in front and then returning to your original lane, and your normal speed. To do this, you will need a reasonably long stretch of straight road ahead. Limited space and visibility on the road can potentially end in disaster. Don’t forget to consider your own car in your decision to overtake, if your car is not powerful, if it is loaded up or there is an uphill stretch just ahead then you will need more space to pick up speed and pass safely.

You should never try to overtake two or more cars in one go, so make sure there is plenty of room in front of the vehicle you want to overtake. It is also important to check the line markings on the road; solid lines are there for a reason so do not overtake. If there are solid line markings up ahead and you can’t pass before you reach them, then don’t attempt it.


Having done all of this you are ready to overtake. Check the road, drop back slightly from the car in front and indicate you want to change lanes. Keep checking the road ahead and the road behind you and be decisive, accelerate and move across to the other side of the road (you need to be going a few mph faster than the car you are overtaking). Once you have passed the other car you should pull back into your lane making sure they are not too close to the back of your car.

Overtaking should be avoided when..

Dangerous driver overtaking on solid white lines

You should not overtake if you are in any doubt, or if you cannot see far enough ahead to be sure, for example on a corner, bend, hump bridge or the brow of a hill. If you might come into conflict with other road users then you should not overtake either, this includes, but is not limited to; where a road narrows, when you might force another road user to swerve or slow down, and when approaching a school crossing.

Finally, you must not overtake if doing so would make you cross or straddle a double white line where the solid line is nearest to you, if you would need to enter a bus or cycle lane during the hours of use, after you have passed a no overtaking sign, and before you pass one cancelling it.

I know this, I hear you cry! but on my daily commute to work I see drivers taking risks when overtaking, what on earth can be so important that you need to put your life and other people lives at risk?

If your car is struggling up hills, or stopping you from being able to pass cars safely then take a look at leasing.  Leasing lasts for 3 years, and at the end of your agreement you can simply exchange for a new model, find out more here.