How To Safely Overtake On A Motorway

To safely overtake on a motorway, you’ll need to listen to what your instructor tells you, but with practise your confidence will improve!

You must always leave a safe distance between you and the vehicle you want to overtake.

You should use the MSPSL routine to do this manoeuvre.

First, ask yourself, if it’s necessary, is it legal and is it safe to overtake?

If the answer to any of these questions is NO then don’t do it.

Use your mirrors

You must take full use of the mirrors, and check them regularly to update your information.

Before you overtake – check a couple of times to assess speed, course and position of any following traffic.

Watch out for traffic changing lanes; the traffic in the right-hand lane will be travelling much faster than you.

Take a few mirror checks to help assess their speed and the viability of your intended manoeuvre.

If the conditions are not favourable – don’t do it.

Make sure you signal

It’s vital that you use a good long signal to allow other road users around you to see your intentions to overtake. This could influence their decision to make a similar move.

Know your position

You should be able to move out to the right, smoothly and progressively without any sudden or sharp movements.

Know your speed

You must be able to accelerate enough to overtake without causing difficulties for following traffic.

You must also have enough speed limit available to do this, without breaking the speed limit.

Remember to look

Check well ahead to see if there is anything which will cause problems or prevent you from overtaking like road works, or lane closures, or vehicles travelling much faster from behind you in the overtaking lane.

Try to anticipate if the vehicle you want to overtake is about to do something or move in such a way as to prevent you from doing it.

Look again

A very quick look into the blind spot might sometimes be necessary before you change lanes for the overtake.

Things to remember:

  • Look well ahead
  • Assess well ahead
  • Decide but don’t be hasty
  • Act only when you are safe to do so.

Overtake as quickly and safely as possible and always check in the interior mirror for the car you have just overtaken prior to moving back in front of it.

If you can see it in your interior mirror then you can be sure you have indeed passed it with plenty of room.

Don’t forget to signal your intention to move back to the left.

Keep looking for other vehicles moving into the lane you intend to cross into.

ALWAYS make sure that you cancel the signal.

Overtaking on the left

You must never do this unless there is a traffic queue in the other lane or the queue on your right is moving along much more slowly than in your lane.

Always be patient when driving on the motorway, never tail gate, never flash your lights and get impatient with drivers in front of you.

If you are late, that’s your problem – don’t intimidate others with bad behaviour, it’s silly and dangerous.

Wait until the vehicle in front can safely move over.

Try to let faster traffic get past you and don’t hold them up unnecessarily.

If they are breaking the speed limit it is up to the police to apprehend them. Let them get away and take their bad habits elsewhere.

Never overtake on the left-hand side. If there is someone hogging the middle lane, then try to overtake on their right.

Never use the hard shoulder to overtake (unless directed by signage or the police). This is illegal and dangerous and you will probably be being observed on the CCTV systems which are prevalent on today’s busy motorways.

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