Preventing overtaking accidents

Preventing overtaking accidents

In an ideal world, overtaking accidents would be prevented by better road design; however, one of the problems is that many of our roads were first built sixty or more years ago. overtake1

Safety on these roads can be improved by road markings designed to deter overtaking.

Markings include solid white lines along the edge of the carriageway (these encourage drivers to keep to the centre of their lane rather than positioning to the left); hatching along the centre of two-way roads, solid centre lines, etc., but there is only so much that can be done to change existing roads.

Ultimately, a change in driver behaviour is essential for continuing improvements in overtaking safety. No amount of paint will stop drivers like the one in the photo.

A good starting point for overtaking safety might be to always make your decisions based on the following two questions:

“Do I need to overtake?”
“Do I really need to overtake?”
“Do I need to Overtake?”

A lot of the frustration that is experienced by drivers is brought about by their seeming inability to consider their journey as whole as opposed to simply concentrating on the next 100 metres of road space. In order to answer the question “Do I need to overtake?” you must take account of the whole journey and expected arrival time. Unless the journey is part of a life and death emergency, there is probably no real ‘need’ to overtake at all. Overtaking a few cars is unlikely to get you there any quicker!

The driver in the picture are taking a major risk by overtaking across solid lines, not only is this illegal, it’s highly dangerous – notice that the oncoming truck is flashing his headlights in warning (anger?). Also, if you look deep into the picture you can see a queue of traffic ahead – so the overtake is unlikely to gain these drivers any time.

If you have a sat-nav that shows your estimated time of arrival you will probably realise that regardless of how you drive,when you are in a steady moving traffic situation your arrival time will vary very little – several overtakes might but you a few minutes but more often than not overtaking won’t make any difference. So when answering the question ‘Do I need to overtake?’ ask yourself how much time you will gain and what you will do with that time.

Overtaking can be useful if you are stuck behind a single or couple of slow moving vehicles on an open road, or to maintain a good cruising speed on motorways but in most other situations it will be a waste of time, fuel and effort – and will often be stressful. Having said this I occasionally go out for a drive, just for the sake of driving – on these occasions I’ll overtake just for the sake of overtaking; BUT… I’m no in a hurry and I take the utmost care to plan the overtakes… Also, the cars I overtake often catch me at the next traffic lights!

“Do I need to overtake now?” Otake4

When following a long queue of traffic, or approaching a built up area, overtaking one or two vehicles is unlikely to affect your overall journey time, but will definitely increase your risk of an accident. But if you really feel that overtaking is worthwhile, consider waiting for the right opportunity.

There is a simple rule which says … ‘Good driving starts in bed’…

This rule makes absolute sense when reducing the need to overtake – get up earlier and allow more time for your journey. This fits neatly with my own ‘Ten minute rule’ – allow an extra ten minutes journey time for every hour you expect to travel. However, even if you leave plenty of time there may still be occasions when you want to overtake; when these situations arise you must be well equipped with an overtaking plan.

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