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Overtaking Rules that Everyone Should Follow

Overtaking Rules that Everyone Should Follow

Overtaking is one of the most dangerous manoeuvres a driver or rider can perform on the roads – there are so many things that can unexpectedly go wrong.

DO NOT overtake if there is any doubt, or where you cannot see far enough ahead to be sure it is safe.

DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users.



Before overtaking you should make sure:

  • The road is sufficiently clear ahead.
  • Road users are not beginning to overtake you.
  • There is a suitable gap in front of the road user you plan to overtake.


The Highway Code (Rules 162 – 169) offers clear rules and guidance to help you overtake safely and legally. These rules include:


Rule 163 – Overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so. You should:

  • Not get too close to the vehicle you intend to overtake.
  • Use your mirrors, signal when it is safe to do so, take a quick sideways glance if necessary into the blind spot area and then start to move out.
  • Not assume you can simply follow a vehicle ahead which is overtaking; there may only be enough room for one vehicle.
  • Move quickly past the vehicle you are overtaking. Allow plenty of room. Move back to the left as soon as you can but do not cut in.
  • Take extra care at night and in poor visibility when it is harder to judge speed and distance.
  • Give way to oncoming vehicles before passing parked vehicles or other obstructions on your side of the road.
  • Only overtake on the left if the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right, and there is room to do so.
  • Stay in your lane if traffic is moving slowly in queues. If the queue on your right is moving more slowly than you are, you may pass on the left.
  • Give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.
  • Take extra care when overtaking long vehicles.


Rule 165 – You MUST NOT overtake:

  • If you have to cross or straddle double white lines with a solid line nearest to you (but see Rule 129).
  • If you would have to enter an area designed to divide traffic, if it is surrounded by a solid white line.
  • The nearest vehicle to a signal-controlled crossing facility, especially when it has stopped to let pedestrians, equestrian traffic or cyclists to cross.
  • If you would have to enter a lane reserved for buses, trams or cycles during its hours of operation.
  • After a ‘No Overtaking’ sign and until you pass a sign cancelling the restriction.


Share this page with all your friends and family whether they are drivers, pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists because EVERY road death is one too many.



First Published: 17 February 2014
Last updated: 11 November 2016

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