Overtaking, passing a car on a single-carriageway. Probably the single most dangerous maneuver while driving (not including illegal and illegitimate moves). So, when to do it? how?
The question of when and where to overtake is an important one. The first rule is that it is never wrong not to overtake. Always question the need to overtake. Overtakes usually don't facilitate that much progress. Go to a nearby road. Count the number of cars that pass by for a whole minute. That's how cars you have to overtake to save a minute off of your arrival time.
Now, let's move on as to HOW to overtake. Most drivers accelerate from behind the overtaken driver, roll up just behind it, swerve around and in front. Not the best method. You tailgate, hurtle towards the overtaken car, swerve sharply and begin the move when your view is obstructed by behind close up and personal behind the overtaken car.
So, how to do it properly? Easy enough.
1. Maintain the appropriate following margin:
This will prevent any front to-rear collisions and give you the space to see around the overtaken car and to accelerate past it. Keep checking the mirrors to ensure you are not overtaken. Signal and take a quick peek besides you.
2. Start moving over:
Gently move the steering. Keep your speed constant so you only move diagonally relative to the car in front without gaining on it.
3. Judge the appropriate "stand off" position:
This is the position from where you can see enough of the road ahead, including not just the offside, but also the nearside, nearside shoulder and nearside side-roads. This is the position you accelerate from.
By maintaining the recommended margin, you will usually be capable of accelerating while the corner of your car is only slightly protruding the broken lines and not already in the offside, but sometimes you will have to move over as far the line of the offside shoulder to get the view you are happy with, all for the sake of vision.
4. Accelerate past!
Select an appropriate gear and accelerate past. Squeeze the throttle, quickly but not instantly. You may choose a short honk or flash of the main beams to alert the overtaken driver. In a manual transmission, it's better to hold on to one gear than to change gears in the middle of the overtake - try to complete it all in one gear, two at most.
5. Go back:
Move over gradually back to the nearside, while keeping a safe margin from the overtaken car behind.
6. Optional: Abort!
Always keep in mind the ability to abort the overtake before or as you initiate it, if you need to. By setting a "stand-off" position before accelerating, you are capable of aborting easily before initiating the maneuver by accelerating, especially if you are capable of initiating the move from your own lane.
If, for any reason, you must abort mid-overtake, lift off of the throttle and brake as hard as you can. A very brief braking would usually suffice in letting the car in front pass you and allow to merge back safely.
Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Location: McLean, VA, USA
Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:34 am
Well, as usual we are more or less in agreement. The thing that I would advise differently is to start accelerating not when you are already fully on the oncoming traffic lane, but much earlier, when you are just starting to advance to the left.
This way the whole maneuver takes less time - and the less time you are on the way of upcoming traffic, the safer it is.
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