Overtaking & prohibition of overtaking

Fundamental rules for overtaking

Pass on the right.

A is turning left. In this case, B is permitted to pass on the right.

  • Overtake on the left (with some exceptions).
  • Make sure there is plenty of space between you and the vehicle you are passing.
  • You must be able to see the entire overtaking distance, and it must be free of obstructions and oncoming traffic.


  1. Move out slightly to the left so that you can see whether the road is free from oncoming traffic.
  2. Check that you are not yourself being overtaken:
    1. Rear-view mirror.
    2. Left side mirror.
    3. Blind spot.
  3. Indicate left.
  4. Increase your speed (within the speed limit) and steer towards the left, ensuring that you leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle you are overtaking.
  5. Once you have passed the other vehicle, you must indicate right and return to your original lane as soon as possible. However, do not rejoin the lane too soon, as this could lead to a collision with the other vehicle. A good rule of thumb is to only rejoin the lane once you can see the car you have overtaken in the right side mirror.

No overtaking

  • Where the No overtaking sign is displayed.
  • If someone behind you is overtaking you or is about to do so.
  • If you risk getting stuck in the opposite lane (e.g. because of a long que in your lane).
  • If the car you intend to overtake is indicating left.
    • Exception: Permitted to pass on the right.
  • If you would need to cross the centre line and there is oncoming traffic.
  • If you would need to cross the centre line and there is limited visibility.
  • In conjunction with uncontrolled pedestrian crossings, bicycle passages and bicycle crossings.
    • Exception: Passing at low speed (so that you are able to stop) is permitted if there is more than one lane in your direction and one of the following conditions is met:
      • The lanes have different destinations.
      • There is heavy queuing in all lanes.
      • It takes place at a junction.
  • On the right-hand side.
    • Exception 1: Permitted if the lanes have different destinations.
    • Exception 2: Permitted if there is heavy queuing in all lanes.
    • Exception 3: Permitted if the vehicles are in separate lanes at a junction.
    • Exception 4: Permitted if the speed limit is no higher than 70 km/h and there are at least two marked lanes going in the same direction.
    • Exception 5: Permitted if the other vehicle is turning left.
  • In conjunction with a junction where the priority-to-the-right rule applies, or other junctions where you have an obligation to give way.
    • Exception 1: Permitted to overtake two-wheeled vehicles.
    • Exception 2: Permitted to pass on the right if the other vehicle is turning left.
  • In conjunction with railway crossings with no barriers or traffic signals (red, amber, green).
    • Exception: Permitted to overtake two-wheeled vehicles.

Overtaking is prohibited here, as you would have to cross the centre line on a bend with obscured visibility. This applies even though the centre line is not continuous.

When being overtaken

  • Look to the right (if the hard shoulder is empty, you can drive on it to make things easier).
  • Do not accelerate (slow down if needed).
  • You are obliged to assist the car overtaking you, even if the overtaking manoeuvre is prohibited or dangerous.

The white car has performed an illegal overtaking manoeuvre (solid centre line). You have obligations in this situation. You may not increase your speed or do anything to obstruct the passing car.

Other issues

  • It is difficult to judge the distance to oncoming cars and their speed, especially on a straight road. Winding roads make it easier, as you see the cars from the side.
  • Trams are normally overtaken on the right.
  • Roadwork vehicles may be overtaken on the most suitable side.
  • You are not allowed to break the speed limit when overtaking.

Calculate your overtaking

The time gained from overtaking is often minimal. This means that many overtaking manoeuvres are unnecessary, in relation to the risks involved. The time gained per 10 km can generally be said to be:

  • Over 90 km/h: If you increase your speed by 10 km/h, you will gain 30 seconds every 10 km.
  • Below 90 km/h: If you increase your speed by 10 km/h, you will gain 1 minute every 10 km.

Calculation examples for time gained

If you are driving at 100 km/h and increase your speed to 110 km/h, how much time will you gain per 10 km travelled?

Method 1

Original speed 100 km/h
New speed 110 km/h
Minutes per hour (as the speed is measured in km/h – kilometres per hour) 60 min
Number of kilometres 10 km

First calculate how many minutes it takes to travel 1 km at both speeds:

  • 60 / 100 = 0.60 minutes to travel 1 km
  • 60 / 110 = 0.55 minutes to travel 1 km

It therefore takes slightly less time at the higher speed. The difference is:

  • 0.60 - 0.55 = 0.05 minutes faster per km when travelling at 110 km/h compared with 100 km/h.

However, the question is how much time you will gain per 10 km, not per km. Therefore, recalculate the time gained per 10 km:

  • 0.05 * 10 = 0.5 minutes gained per 10 km

It is easier to understand if the answer is recalculated to seconds:

  • 0.5 * 60 = 30 seconds (32.73 unless it is rounded off)

Method 2

Original speed 100 km/h
New speed 110 km/h
Distance 10 km = 10,000 metres
Fixed conversion rate km/h to m/s 3.6

Formula for calculation of time:

  • Distance / speed = time

For the formula to work, you must use metres instead of kilometres, and metres per second (m/s) instead of kilometres per hour (km/h). The speeds are therefore recalculated to m/s:

  • 100 / 3.6 = 27.78 m/s
  • 110 / 3.6 = 30.56 m/s

Only now can you use the formula Distance / speed = time:

  • 10,000 / 27.78 = 360 s
  • 10,000 / 30.56 = 327 s

You can then work out the time difference between both speeds:

  • 360 - 327 = 33 seconds (32.73 unless it is rounded off)

Overtaking glossary

  • Accelerating overtaking means that you drive closely behind a car at the same speed. When you begin the overtaking manoeuvre, you pull out and increase your speed quickly (within the speed limit) to pass the car.
  • Flying overtaking means that you approach the car in front at high speed and change lanes in good time before driving past. A flying overtaking manoeuvre is preferable as it requires a shorter distance (as well as using less fuel). You must keep within the speed limit.

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