How to overtake a car safely?

Pulling off a safe overtaking move is difficult with multiple hazards to look out for. Here’s a guide to getting past slower traffic safely.

How to overtake a car safely?

Overtaking a slower moving vehicle is an essential driving skill one needs to master. However, it is also one of the most difficult manoeuvres to safely execute. In fact, unplanned and impulsive overtaking manoeuvres are among the highest contributors to road fatalities. At times, even experienced drivers falter for there are multiple hazards that one needs to look out for. And these vary depending on the kind of road being driven on and the traffic conditions. 

While driving on a dual carriageway, one needs to be sure that sufficient space is available to get the job done. But pulling off an overtaking manoeuvre on single carriageways is even more challenging as one must correctly judge the speed of the vehicle coming from the opposite direction. Additionally, one needs to keep an eye out for other dangers. Even more caution is called for while overtaking on wet roads and at night. Here’s a quick guide on how to get past slower-moving traffic without compromising your safety and that of other road users. 

Stay well back

One common folly made by motorists is following the vehicle they intend to overtake too closely. Irrespective of whether you are driving on a single or dual carriageway, drop back by
around 30 metres. This will allow you to see far ahead and spot potential hazards early on.

Check visibility

Never attempt overtaking on stretches where visibility is limited. You should be able to see far ahead with a clear view of approaching vehicles. Check the condition of the road ahead for it will let you plan your manoeuvre properly. 

Check your mirrors

The next step is to glance at the rear view and wing mirrors to check if another vehicle is about to overtake you. Apart from checking the mirrors, you should take a quick look over your right shoulder to ensure no vehicles are hidden in the blind spots.

Check for vehicles hidden in the blind spot.


Before you begin to overtake, ensure that you use the indicators to notify other road users about your intention. Also, honk and flash your headlamps a few times to warn the vehicles ahead that you are about to overtake. On single carriageways, pull out of your lane slightly to get a clear view of the road ahead. Select the right gear and start accelerating (this is not the time to think of fuel efficiency).

Copyright (c) Autocar India. All rights reserved.
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Issue: 212 | Autocar India: April 2017

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