Overtaking for Learner Drivers
What is Overtaking? Here’s the Government’s take on it from the Highway Code – using the road – but our overtaking knowledge is coming from professional experience rather than the rule book.
Yes it’s brown trouser time or is it? Overtaking is probably the most dangerous thing you will ever do in your driving lessons. But with a few helpful tips from us it doesn’t have to be so daunting. All you need to do is stick to the speed limits and listen up…
Overtaking is passing a moving vehicle, cyclist or horse rider etc to to make progress with your journey. We are not talking about stationary objects like park cars roadworks or those pesky builders skips that are plonked in our way on many roads. These would be classed as meeting situations and would be a topic of their own.
Why is Overtaking so Difficult?
Overtaking’s main danger is judging the oncoming vehicles speed and distance before making that leap of faith. It’s also judging the speed of the thing you are overtaking. A slow horse or cyclist may be easy to pass but one of those Lycra clad super cyclists moving fast or farmer Giles out on his tractor can present more of a challenge.
Safe, Legal, Necessary !
There’s three things to consider here. Let’s start with –
Necessary – Do we really need to do the manoeuver? Is the vehicle only mildly holding us up and would we really benefit from those extra couple of minutes we might save. Could farmer Giles be about to turn off soon into his field? Are there any roundabouts coming up soon where the vehicle may choose another direction to us?
Legal – yes let’s not break the law. Continuous white lines on our side of the road would indicate a dangerous places to overtake and is a legal requirement that we must not cross them. (Exemption to this rule is anything moving less than 10 mph like roads sweepers or a non Lycra’d up super cyclist). Let’s also not overtake on a pedestrian crossing either!
Safe – after the first two steps have been weighed up we decide ‘YES’ I must overtake and ‘No’ I’m not going to jail doing it. Hopefully you wouldn’t drive with your eyes closed so let’s not overtake on a bend or brow of a hill, do we have vision ahead? Are there any vehicles coming towards us and at what speed? Even if it’s a 60 mph road they could be going a lot faster and the combined speed could be a recipe for disaster. After all aspects are reviewed we decide it’s safe.
Tips for the Manoeuvre
- Mirrors – let’s check to see what the vehicle behind is doing. He might be in the middles of overtaking us.
- Position – can we position close to the centre line of the road to peep round the vehicle ahead to see traffic coming towards us? Maybe if we give more distance from the car ahead we may see further ahead and have space to accelerate into.
- Speed – if we’re not driving a Ferrari we may need to drop to a lower gear to give us more power to pass the vehicle briskly when the time arrives.
- Look – let’s look as far as the eye can see, are we safe ahead and remember other people speed.
- Mirrors / signal / manoeuvre – mirror check again and then signal to show vehicles behind, ahead and the one we are passing our intentions. Overtake briskly giving as much clearance to the vehicle we are passing as possible.
If it’s Unsafe, Don’t Overtake!
That gut of ours is always right so let’s list to it. A day out to the seaside could be ruined if we get this wrong. There’s no harm not overtaking if we feel unsafe. Why not pull up if your unsure and take a break. I’m sure you can wait an extra ten minutes for your ice creams.
If you enjoyed reading this, or learned a few tips from it, then please share it with your friends and help us spread the word about safe driving.
Should you need any advice with your own driving career, then pick up the phone or say a few words in the comment section. We’re always interested in hearing your stories and tips for other drivers.