Overtaking & prohibition of overtaking


The white car is turning into the road on the left. In this case, you are permitted to pass on the right.

There are three fundamental rules for overtaking:

  • Overtake on the left (with some exceptions, see below).
  • Make sure you have 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, so that you have plenty of distance to the vehicle you are overtaking.
  5. Once you have passed the other vehicle, you are to indicate right and return to your original lane as soon as possible. However, do not go in too soon, as this can lead to a collision with the other vehicle. A good rule of thumb is to go back in only when you can see the car you passed in the right side mirror.

No overtaking

  • Where the sign No overtaking is posted.
  • Where there is a risk of endangerment.
  • If someone behind you is overtaking you or is about to do so.
  • In queues where the distance between cars is short, if the aim is to gain a few metres.
  • If the car you intend to overtake is indicating left.
  • In case of oncoming traffic, should you cross over the centre line.
  • In case of limited visibility, should you cross over the centre line.
  • In conjunction with unguarded pedestrian crossings, bicycle passages & bicycle crossings.
    • Exception: Permitted to pass at low speed (so that you are able to stop) 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 in a junction.
  • On the right 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 cars have separate lanes in a junction.
    • Exception 4: Permitted if the speed limit is no higher than 70 km/h and there are at least 2 marked lanes going in the same direction.
    • Exception 5: Permitted to pass to the right of a vehicle intending to turn left.
  • In conjunction with right-hand rule junction.
    • Exception: Permitted to overtake two-wheeled vehicles.
  • In conjunction with railway crossings with no gates or traffic lights (red, amber, green).
    • Exception: Permitted to overtake two-wheeled vehicles.

You are not allowed to overtake, since you will have to cross the center line when the visibility is limited.

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 obligated to assist the car overtaking you, even if the overtaking is prohibited and dangerous.

The white car made an illegal overtake (solid 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.
  • Road work vehicles may be overtaken on the most suitable side.
  • You are not allowed to break the speed limit when overtaking.

Do the math

The time gained from an overtaking is often minimal. This makes many overtakes unnecessary in relation to the risks. The time gain per 10 km can generally be said to be:

  • 1 minute per 10 km at speeds under 90 km/h.
  • 30 seconds per 10 km at speeds over 90 km/h.

Important clarification on the calculation of time gained

Do I have to be able to do calculations like the one below on the actual theory test?
– Most likely not. The difference between the alternative answers is often great enough for you to make an estimation like the one above, i.e. that you will gain 1 minute/10 km at speeds under 90 km/h and 30 seconds/10 km at speeds over 90 km/h.

Example of time gain calculation

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

Method 1

Colour codes for the figures (easier to keep track of them)
Original speed 100 km/h
New speed 110 km/h
Minutes per hour (since the speed is km/h, kilometres per hour) 60 min
Number of kilometres 10 km

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

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

It therefore takes slightly less time with 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 gain per 10 km, not per km. Therefore, recalculate the time gain per 10 km:

  • 0.05 * 10 = 0.5 minutes gained per 10 km

Now it is done. It is however easier to understand if the answer is recalculated to seconds:

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

Method 2

Colour codes for the figures (easier to keep track of them)
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 times

Formula for calculation of time:

  • Distance / speed = time

For the formula to work requires us to use metres instead of 10 km and metres per second (m/s) instead of kilometres an 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 we use the formula Distance / speed = time:

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

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

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

Overtaking glossary

  • Zipper rule/cogwheel principle means that vehicles from each connecting road take turns to go, irrespective of the applicable yield rules. This is an example of effective spontaneous collaboration between drivers.
  • Accelerative overtake means that you drive closely behind a car at the same speed. When you go to overtake, you drive out and increase your speed quickly (within the speed limit) to pass the car.
  • Flying overtake means that you approach the car in front at high speed and change lanes in good time before driving past. A flying overtake is preferable, as it requires a shorter distance and less fuel. You must keep within the speed limit.

Theory test with video questions

Video questions – Swedish theory test Free demo – try the questions