RAC Cars News


Skills For New Drivers: How To Overtake

By raccars Published

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Driving on single lane roads inevitably brings you up at times behind slower moving drivers. In some cases the difference in speed is minimal and you can happily continue on behind. At other times, you will find the vehicle in front is very slow moving, such as a tractor on a country road, a fully loaded lorry battling up a hill, a nervous learner driver or simply an old dear pootling along in her ancient Metro.

It's not a particularly complicated manoeuvre but it's one a lot of people struggle to perform well, appearing to swerve out randomly with no thought for other road users. Consider the following points to make sure you overtake safely.

First of all, make sure it's worth doing at this point. If you are about to pull off at the next junction, it's not worth the tiny amount of time you will save to overtake. Similarly, if you can see a long line of slow moving vehicles ahead, you won't gain anything unless you manage to pass the whole lot, which may not be feasible.

If overtaking does make sense, you need to be able to gain speed, move into the next lane, pass the car and return to your original lane without disturbing other traffic, all of which takes plenty of road space and time and relies upon your vehicle having the performance needed.

If you cannot see the road ahead clearly or if there is a solid white road marking between the two lanes, do not try to overtake.

Having ensured the space is clear, you need to accelerate before you pull out. If you don't, you will waste time trying to pick up speed in the wrong lane. Make sure you have dropped back from the car you overtaking in advance, to allow yourself a run up to a higher speed.

Before pulling out, make sure you check your rearview mirrors - another car behind you could also be preparing to overtake and move quicker than you. Once you are ready indicate, so that the cars following know you are about to move.

You should now have enough speed to cross lanes and pass the car ahead smoothly and quickly. Keep your foot down until you are safely past the car, checking your wing mirror to make sure you can see the whole of the car you have overtaken before you pull smoothly back in. You can ease off the accelerator and return to cruising speed once you are safely ahead of the other car - braking at this point is plain rude.

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