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Overtaking Slower Traffic Legally

Overtaking is one of the most dangerous manoeuvres that any motorist can execute. Some people view overtaking as scary, as they want to make sure that they complete the overtake and that they get back onto the correct side of the road in time before they have to rush.

Another worry for many motorists is that they are anxious that the vehicle that they are passing will either quicken its pace or slow down.

When you are being overtaken, by a vehicle travelling quicker than you, you should remain at the same speed that you were travelling at when the manoeuvre began.



When planning an overtake you should:

  • Make sure that the road ahead is clear of oncoming traffic.
  • Look in your rear view mirror and make sure that other motorists behind you are not planning to overtake you.
  • Always make sure that you have a suitable gap so that you can complete the manoeuvre in a safe way.

Overtaking When in Traffic

The Highway Code permits overtaking but only when it is safe to complete the procedure.

  • When going to overtake the vehicle ahead, do not get too close to it.
  • Before starting the procedure be sure to look in your mirrors, indicate if the road ahead is clear, make sure to check the blindspot of your vehicle as another road user may have already started an overtake on you, if all your surroundings are clear then you can begin your manoeuvre.
  • If a vehicle is overtaking ahead, do not follow it like a sheep, wait until it has finished its manoeuvre as there may not be enough room for two vehicles to get in on time.
  • Once starting an overtake make sure to carry it out as quick as possible getting onto the correct side of the road in the minimum time and in the safest possible manner. Do not cut in on the car you are overtaking, pass with good road manners and make sure to allow for a gap between you and the vehicle you are overtaking.

Other Road Users that You May Have to Overtake


Remember that it is not only cars and vans that you will have to overtake in the course of your motoring life. You may have to pass horse riders, cyclists and pedestrians who are on the road because there is no footpath in this area. You should act the same way as if these road users are vehicles, by giving them the same amount of room that you would give a car or van when you are overtaking them. But remember to go slowly when passing horse riders as the horse could rear up if the passing vehicle frightens it.

  • You should take extra care when driving at night as you may approach obstacles in much less time than you would in the day as it can be hard to see other road users.
  • When passing parked vehicles or obstructions on your side of the road you must give way to those on the other side of the road as they have priority.
  • You are only allowed to overtake on the left hand side of a vehicle in the UK or as some people call it up the inside if the vehicle in front of you is turning to the right and there is enough space to complete your manoeuvre.

Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated March 2016.