The overtaking plan

The overtaking plan.

Before starting any overtaking manoeuvre, consider the safety and legality of the location. car_emerging

Are there any junctions to the left or right from which vehicles may emerge?
Are there any gateways?
How wide are the footpaths?
Is my view ahead limited by the brow of a hill, overhanging branches, walls or other obstructions?
Can you see well ahead for vehicles that might be approaching fast?
You are looking for anything that might make your manoeuvre unsafe. The obvious things are road features, markings and signs. Bends, hill crests, solid white lines, hatched areas, ‘No Overtaking’ signs, pedestrian crossings, etc. Defensive drivers will also be considering other information. A ‘cattle’ warning sign, for example, might draw your attention to a greasy road surface which could cause danger when overtaking; skid marks might indicate a concealed entrance.

You should also aim to find a location that will minimise time spent on the wrong side of the road. With this in mind you could consider overtaking immediately after a junction or bend where the target vehicle’s speed is slowest. If you do this, care must be taken not to surprise or upset the driver you are overtaking (see ‘the two P’s below).

Other drivers.

To reduce the risk of giving approaching drivers a heart-attack (fear!), you must be able to judge the speed of the ‘closing-gap’ accurately. If two vehicles approaching each other at 45mph and 55mph respectively, the gap between them will be closing at approximately 48 metres per second. (Pace out 48 metres to see how long it is … Then try it with your eyes closed to get a sense of the danger!)

In addition to approaching vehicles, you must also consider the vehicle that you are intending to pass.

Is it being driven erratically?
Will it start to speed up?
Who’s driving?
Beware of cars with ‘lucky-dice’ dangling from the mirror – they are often driven by gamblers!

The two P’s;

First: Is your manoeuvre Practical? Consider whether your manoeuvre is practical (bearing in mind the points outlined in this article).

Second: Is your manoeuvre Political? What will other road users think? Even though your expert knowledge tells you that it’s perfectly safe to overtake, that safety can soon be put in jeopardy by another road user who takes exception to your actions.

Space: Another important consideration is ensuring that you leave enough space for the vehicle you are passing. If you get too close you can distract other drivers. Cutting in after overtaking can cause people to panic brake or swerve. passBike

Also make sure that you allow enough clearance when passing vulnerable road users such a cyclists or horse riders – cyclist night wobble, hit uneven road surface or be blown off course by the wind, because of this you should leave at least as much space as you would when passing a car, preferably more.
Controlling your vehicle safely

In order to overtake safely you need to be quick and stable. Quick to minimise your ‘time exposed to danger’ on the wrong side of the road. Stable to maintain control, especially if things don’t go to plan

Your ability to be quick will depend to a degree on the vehicle that you are driving. If your car is not powerful enough to overtake using the method outlined below, it’s not safe to overtake. Avoid the temptation to ‘wind up and swoop out’. While this method will work, you are dependant upon the actions of others to maintain your safety margins. If something unforeseen happens you will be left with no escape route.

Keep your vehicle stable by choosing the safe overtaking path shown on the diagram below. (The red line shows the unstable path taken by ‘swoop out’ drivers).


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