A Guide to Overtaking on Country roads

A Guide to Overtaking on Country roads

The Motor Accident Commission of South Australia

Small Inputs equal big outputs

When driving at high speed, even the smallest turn of the steering wheel can result in losing control of your vehicle. Always keep in mind that high speed multiplies any movements you make behind the wheel.

overtaking on country roads heading

Anatomy of a Safe Overtaking Manoeuvere

Small Inputs equal big outputs

When driving at high speed, even the smallest turn of the steering wheel can result in losing control of your vehicle. Always keep in mind that high speed multiplies any movements you make behind the wheel.

Stay back

As you approach the vehicle you intend to overtake, adjust your speed as necessary in order to maintain a safe following distance.

Check ahead

You must be able to see any oncoming traffic, estimate how far away it is and whether or not it will be a danger to you if you overtake.

Check behind

Before you pull out to overtake, check in all rear vision mirrors to make sure it is safe. Clear blind spots by looking over your right shoulder to ensure there are no vehicles alongside your vehicle.

Accelerate

You are now on the wrong side of the road and you don’t want to stay there any longer than necessary. Accelerate and overtake as quickly and safely as possible without exceeding the speed limit.

Move Right

Before pulling out to overtake, ensure that you haven’t reduced your following distance and that you still have a clear uninterrupted view of the road ahead.

Signal Your Intentions

This is a legal requirement and it will also warn drivers that you are about to move to the right (or to the left if you are overtaking a vehicle on its left).

signal left

After you’ve overtaken the other vehicle you must indicate to let other drivers know that you are returning to the left. This is another legal requirement.

Move Left

Before you move back to the left side of the road, make sure that you can see the front centre of the vehicle you have overtaken in your internal rear vision mirror.

Cancel your signal

Make sure you have cancelled your left indicator.

Anatomy of a Safe Overtaking Manoeuvere

Dividing lines

Line markings are a guide to help you determine when overtaking is likely to be safe. Disregarding them can land you with heavy fines or worse, a serious collision, so take note. Remember, they are just a guide. You still need to thoroughly check that you have enough visibility, space and time before attempting to overtake.

Overtaking on a road with a single continuous line is not permitted.

Overtaking on a road with a single continuous line on the left is not permitted.

Overtaking on a road with 2 parallel continuous lines is not permitted.

Overtaking on a road with a single broken dividing line is permitted.

Overtaking on a road with a broken dividing line on the left is permitted.

Dividing lines

Visibility and Sight

You should only overtake when you have a clear view of any approaching traffic and can complete the manoeuvre safely with plenty of margin for error.

Don’t overtake when approaching a crest or curve in the road.

Remember that even on a straight stretch, a dip in the road can conceal an oncoming vehicle.

Look out for signs indicating that there are overtaking lanes ahead. These offer a safer place to overtake but care is still required, particularly when traffic is heavy.

Visibility and Sight

Safe overtaking gap

As funny as this may sound, you need to go a little slower than the vehicles you intend to overtake. A gap of at least three seconds is recommended (when the car in front passes an object, count to three. You shouldn’t pass the same object until you’ve finished). The biggest mistake you can make is to get too close to the car in front.

Safe overtaking gap

overtaking multiple vehicles

If there is more than one vehicle in front of you, it is often best to overtake multiple vehicles in one pass, than to risk it again later. Whilst this is recommended, be sure you have enough space and enough time to do so – constantly reassess the manoeuvre as you’re making it.

overtaking multiple vehicles

Tips and Tricks

These helpful tips and tricks are good to keep in mind if you find yourself questioning your ability to overtake the vehicle in front.

If it doesn't look or feel safe to overtake, then don't do it - wait till it is safe.

A safe overtaking gap is your overtaking time plus a "safety margin" of at least 3 seconds.

Never overtake a heavy vehicle that is approaching a crossroad. Another vehicle, could enter the road from the left in front of the truck.

Don’t go faster when being overtaken - this makes things more risky for everyone. Instead keep left and allow enough space for the overtaking vehicle.

When you overtake another vehicle, you’re allowed to briefly flash your high beams immediately before starting to overtake.

Tips and Tricks

Tyre spray

Tyre spray happens when our tyres kick up debris like gravel or water while we’re driving. It’s a hazard that can cause fishtailing, a flat tyre or other damage, or even an accident.

When other vehicles travel towards you, their tyre spray can cover your windshield and hamper your vision of the road. To stay safe, reduce your speed and check further ahead for potential hazards when you see another vehicle coming towards you.

Tyre spray

Slow Vehicle turnouts

When you’re driving through hilly areas, on winding roads, or when towing a heavy trailer, it might not be safe to drive at the speed limit. You don’t need to drive any faster than what feels comfortable.

However, other drivers can get frustrated when they’re forced to wait. If other vehicles are beginning to pile up behind you, the slow vehicle turnouts give you some space. You can leave the through lane, and even stop briefly if necessary, to let the other drivers pass.

Slow Vehicle turnouts

Bailing out of a bad overtake

Even if you’ve checked and double-checked everything, you’ll sometimes find that you need to pull out of an attempted overtake. Stay calm to comfortably and safely return to your own lane.

SLOW DOWN

Check your rear vision mirrors to make sure another vehicle hasn’t followed you into the overtaking lane, and if not, apply your brakes.

Indicate

Inform other motorists around you of your intention to return to your original driving position by using your indicator as soon as possible.

Look

Check your blind spots and rear vision mirrors again to find a safe gap in the traffic heading in the same direction as you to slip into.

Wait

Allow any vehicles you may have just overtaken go past you again and then when possible, gently steer back into your appropriate lane.

Note - Continually check the distance of any oncoming vehicles. If you are unable to find a suitable, safe opportunity to return to your original driving lane in time, stop your vehicle at a safe location on the opposite emergency lane instead. Once all traffic in both lanes has passed, carefully resume your trip.

Bailing out of a bad overtake
Ultimately, if you're not sure, just dont risk it!
just dont risk it
mac.sa.gov.au
mac.sa.gov.au