How To Overtake Safely

One of the most overwhelming pieces of the learning to drive puzzle is learning how to overtake safely in your driving lessons.

It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, when your driving instructor asks you to pass a slower-moving vehicle, it’s a nerve-wracking time! The slower driver in front of you could be anything from another learner driver on their driving lessons, to a heavy lorry that’s taking its time going uphill due to the weight of the vehicle.

When someone is chugging along ahead of you, your driving instructor will give you the guidance you need to pull out and pass the car ahead.


The problem? Well, most drivers aren’t great at overtaking safely. There’s not enough thought put into overtaking the slower vehicles on the road. Many of them out there have either forgotten what they learned during their driving lessons, or they are careless – both are dangerous situations! So, how should you overtake?

And how do you overtake safely? There are specific processes you should follow if you want to make sure that you are safe on the road. Let’s take a look:

  • Do You Need To Overtake The Car?

Before you overtake on the road – whether you are in your driving lessons or not – you need to decide whether you really need to overtake the car in the first place.

If you have somewhere to be and the road is safe to overtake, proceed with caution. If you don’t need to leave the road any time soon, stay behind the car and continue safely.

  • Plan Ahead

You’ll learn during your driving lessons to plan ahead when you overtake. The best overtaking maneuvers are those that have enough space for you to go faster, cross the lane and pass the car, then cross back and return to average speed.

It would help if you had a good stretch of road ahead to get it right. Without clear space and adequate road conditions, you could end up in a dangerous place – not ideal! Avoid overtaking on a hill where possible, and look ahead of the car in front of you before you start moving.

It would help if you made sure that there is enough room for you to go in front of the car ahead. Unless the conditions are 100% ideal, do not attempt to overtake – and definitely do not overtake more than one car at a tie.

  • Get Ready

When you decide the time is right to overtake, drop back to allow space to speed up. Then, watch your rearview mirrors to ensure that cars behind you can see you dropping back. Indicate (mirror, signal, maneuver, remember?) that you are about to overtake and don’t leave until you’ve done these things.

  • The Move

Now that you’ve checked that the road is safe and you’ve pulled back from the car in front, turning on your indicator, it’s time to go. Keep an eye on the road as you move, and if you spot a car in front or someone behind trying to overtake you, bail out and get back to the right side of the road.

The key is safety, which means that you need to be decisive. The less time you spend on the opposite side of the road, the safer you will be. Build your speed and steer smoothly to the other side of the road. You want to be faster than the car ahead.

  • Don’t Slow Down Yet!

After you have overtaken the slower car in front, keep accelerating until you have more space and can safely move in front.

  • Moving Back To The Right Lane

You should wait to pull back into the correct lane until you can see the whole of the car behind you in the rearview mirror. There’s no use being just one car length ahead – if you have to hit the brakes for whatever reason, you’ll be the culprit of a pile-up.

Give yourself and the other car plenty of space and don’t take your foot off the accelerator until you are back in the right lane. It’s then that you can ease back to the correct speed.

It Pays To Be Polite

As important as it is for the driving instructors to teach you how to overtake, you also need to know how to be passed by cars behind you. You should always remain vigilant that a vehicle behind will want to pull in front of you.

Being a consistent driver on the road will help the cars behind to assess whether they can pull in front of you, so if you see someone getting ready to overtake, maintain your speed and help them with the maneuver.

Going too fast to keep them behind you could make things dangerous, and going too slow will interrupt them if they need to bail out!


It’s essential to remain as safe as possible on the road – for your own driving as well as everyone else.




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