Heado-on accUnsafe or illegal overtaking is contributing to many fatal road crashes. Every time we read a report in the media about a head-on collision, we ask the question – but why were these vehicles in the same lane?

Except for the few occasions where a person might have lost control or where he swerved to the wrong side through his distracted driving, these accidents are mostly caused by illegal or unsafe overtaking.

Overtaking should only be performed when it is legal to do so – when there are no road signs or road markings prohibiting overtaking on that specific stretch of road.

It may however be legal to do so – but just plain stupid!! You need to understand far more and use commons sense when performing an overtaking attempt!

Overtaking requires an understanding of the capability of both driver and vehicle, the ability to anticipate and the desire to remain risk free!

On the Arrive Alive website we have provided a detailed guide on safe overtaking, and would like to quote a small section:

Where not to Overtake:

It is best not to consider overtaking at these spots:

* On the left shoulder of the road –  To overtake on the wrong side in the emergency lane is totally inconsiderate of the needs of road users who in the case of an accident may be in need of emergency services.

* Where a vehicle has stopped at a pedestrian crossing or a scholar patrol

* If overtaking can create a danger to any pedestrians such as in parking areas, building complexes, near schools etc

* Where the vehicle in front is slowing down at a YIELD sign

* Where the driver of the vehicle ahead is not able to have a clear vision of what is behind and passing.

* Where pedestrians might be moving between parked vehicles and passengers climbing from vehicles.

* Overtaking on crowded and busy city roads is dangerous due to numerous signals that are exchanged by drivers. Traffic congestion and different sized vehicles add to the problem.

* In blind areas such as bends in roads, corners, near junctions, crossroads, and intersections.

* In blind spot areas such as sharp curves or bends in the route, except where the road is wide enough to allow safe overtaking

* Where the vehicle in front is slowing down when approaching a hill or a blind rise

* If overtaking can create a danger to any oncoming traffic or the vehicle that is being overtaken

* Do not begin an overtaking manoeuvre near to the exit that you need to take.

* Gravel roads:Gravel roads have no markings to assist the driver to remind him where it is dangerous to pass and with the dust from the front vehicle it makes the visibility even worse.The road condition is also worse near bends and in hilly areas.

* At level crossings and stop signs:When a driver decided to stop at a level crossing and you decided to overtake at this critical point it is extremely dangerous. When there are too many factors to consider a driver may overlook the fact that there may be a train coming from the other side on the other line.

* Takeoffs and construction works:To overtake other vehicles that are patiently waiting in a queue for their turn and push in at the front is utterly rude. This is one of the major sources of road rage.

An understanding of safe overtaking will not only help to avoid car accidents and insurance claims – but is the difference between life and death on our roads. With more than a 1000 killed on our roads in December we would like to urge all motorists to THINK before they overtake!!

Also view the Stages of Overtaking

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