Safe Overtaking and Road Safety

Introduction and treat to Road Safety

The seemingly simple manoeuvre of overtaking/ passing other vehicles accounts for a high rate of fatalities on South African roads. Passing stationary vehicles is a rather simple movement and does not present too many problems for most drivers. Overtaking moving vehicles is a different matter and requires skill, experience and practice because hazards are moving and the situation is constantly changing. When poorly executed, the passing procedure can quickly turn a few seconds on the wrong side of the road into a nightmare.

But why is overtaking more complicated than the driver might foresee?

Overtaking in a car demands several skills, driving techniques variable conditions. These include a clear vision of the road ahead, and knowledge and understanding of other vehicles that might be affected – approaching vehicles from the front, trailing vehicles and the ones surrounding the vehicle to overtake. It requires correct perception and able application of mind over the machine. It also involves judgment of speed and distance along with the judicious use of various car accessories like the rear view and side mirrors, transmission, steering wheel, and the braking system. It also requires a good awareness of the vehicle you are driving.

Threats to safe overtaking include a lack of familiarity with the geography and the ability of the vehicle the driver is accustomed to. When the vehicle is heavily loaded with passengers and luggage this increases the risk of error in driver judgement.

The decision to overtake must not be taken lightly. The overtaking decision is a serious decision and the faster the traffic the more serious a decision to overtake is. In this section, we will provide advice with regards to all aspects of overtaking and assist drivers with aspects to consider when making this critical decision.

Where to Overtake

Some places are simply better and safer to overtake than others! The decision to overtake is more difficult on a single lane road because of the different physical nature of the road. Dual lane roads are more likely to be straighter and have a higher speed limit which makes overtaking easier. Single lane roads are not usually straight, at least not for very long, have lower speed limits, and the oncoming traffic is definitely a complicating factor. Overtaking is harder on the single lane road. 

The piece of road that you choose for overtaking must be free of junctions. Be alert to road markings indicating possible junctions. A vehicle emerging from a junction ahead may not be able to see you. If a vehicle does emerge from a junction ahead of you while you are performing an overtaking manoeuvre then the danger of an accident increases sharply. The farther you may identify slower moving vehicles ahead prior to overtaking the better.

You need a straight stretch of road that is long enough that you can move out, overtake the slower vehicle, and return to a normal driving position. Keep in mind that if the road is straight and allows you to increase speed, it would be so for oncoming traffic as well and they might also have increased their speed!  Oncoming traffic has to be taken into consideration before overtaking, even the possibility of a car coming from around a bend.

The best road for overtaking will allow you greater visibility to see that there are no blockages ahead… 

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By Arrive Alive

Photo by Sponchia/Pixabay

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