Increasing Speed While Passing

Passing Permitted SignPassing zones always presented interesting situations for traffic enforcement. There were many times when I would find one driver in the right lane travelling at or near the speed limit and another overtaking on the left at a speed significantly in excess of that limit.

Trapped Behind a Slow Driver

On stopping the speeder I would often hear about how they had been forced to travel behind the slower vehicle, which had been going well under the limit, for great distances and how that slow driver sped up when they reached the passing lane.

Increasing Speed While Being Passed

"Isn't there a law about increasing your speed while being passed?" I was often asked. Yes there is, but it does not automatically take effect when you find an opportunity to pass.

The Law on Passing

157 (2) Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, a driver of an overtaken vehicle,

(a) on hearing an audible signal given by the driver of the overtaking vehicle, must cause the vehicle to give way to the right in favour of the overtaking vehicle, and 

(b) must not increase the speed of the vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

Passing on Two Lane Highways

When there is only one lane for your direction of travel and a safe opportunity to pass appears, honk your horn at the slower driver ahead of you. Having heard the sound of your horn, they are required to wait until after you pass to speed up.

Passing on Multiple Lane Highways

Multiple lanes permit passing on the right because there are at least two adjacent lanes for the same direction of travel. So, the previously slow driver is allowed to speed up to the limit in this type of passing zone.

Slow Driving is Not That Common

Experience had taught me that if I applied my speed "allowance" for drivers over the limit to those under the limit and watched the advisory speed signs, speeders were a dime a dozen and truly slow drivers were difficult to find.

Speeding in Order to Pass

If you have to exceed the limit in order to pass them, you take your chances with law enforcement.

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This is why people lose respect for the Law and those enforcing it.

In my younger days, I used to do a lot of highway driving, often along the # 1 Canyon Hwy, where passing areas were few and far between and more importantly, not very long.

When following behind a nervous, or overloaded, or otherwise slow vehicle, a long train of following vehicles would develop. I never took stupid chances, and prefered to wait till a safe opportunity to pass arrived.

When it did, (sure enough...the other vehicle often sped up, (because the road was straight and there was good visibility), the driver not caring that he had been causing a long caravan.

I could see in my rear view mirror, a constant picture of vehicles darting in and out trying to pass the pack, often from 10 or 12 cars back with frustration rapidly mounting..

When I finally did pull out to pass, I felt it was incumbent on me to allow as many other vehicles to pass the slower vehicle as possible, and would boot it accordingly to create a safe space.

I think, that if there is an officer in the pack, that is seeing what is happening, and chooses to ticket the passer rather than the driver of the vehicle that is creating a hazard, then the officer would deserve the feedback and or abuse he would get.

The Motor Vehicle Act puts a strict ceiling on speed, exceed the limit and you are in violation, no exceptions. It is not the same with slow driving however:

145(1) A person must not drive a motor vehicle at so slow a speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.

In fact, the rules permit a vehicle that can only reach a speed of 60 km/h on level ground to operate on 110 km/h freeways in the province.

Unfortunately, most of us seem to define unreasonable as any speed less than the posted limit. If subjected to this, a driver will often go to foolish lengths to regain the ability to maintain or exceed the limit. I see it every day around me as I drive when I watch people tailgate in the fast lane, but that's content for another article.

I don't see an onus on you to allow as many other vehicles to pass as possible, but I do see an onus on you to pass safely and legally.

Out of courtesy and perhaps self preservation, I see the driver leading the parade letting others pass, but if they are driving within the requirements of section 145(1) there is no legal necessity to do so.

If the slower driver is meeting this standard, I see the speeder as the problem.

Here's a case where the slow driver is driving within the law, but certainly not with any sense of courtesy (which I consider the one of the foundations of safe driving), and rather oblivious to the legitimate needs/desires of other users of the road.  Most of us live by some kind of schedule and need to get places, and speed limits are typically set at rather conservative levels - snow, ice, or fog excepted. 

Should the speed limit in the right hand lane of passing zones should be reduced to, e.g. 20 km/h less than the prevailing limit to ensure that there is room for passing to occur?

Yes, I can relate to this one.

In my younger days, this was a sense of frustration, but as the years and wisdom accumulated (along with the other baggage’s of  life), I learned to stay back and keep right.

The area in particular that I remember was between Cathedral Grove and the passing lanes by Little Qualicum Falls.

As you can imagine, there was usually a “train” of traffic leading up to the passing lanes and then a mad dash for speed freedom. Once I learned to keep right and stay calm, life became much less stressful and the drive much more pleasant. At the end of the drive, the 20 or 30 seconds spent in the car were much more enjoyable.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

This was exactly the area that I had in mind when I wrote this piece. The posted speed limit was 80 km/h and the highway around Cameron Lake has many advisory speed corners posted at 60 km/h. I was often uncomfortable operating at speeds above 60 km/h here, especially in bad weather or heavy traffic. I saw many collisions here where an oncoming vehicle entered the oncoming lane and stuck another vehicle head on.

The three lane east of the lake was a raceway in summer. It was not uncommon to find vehicles traveling at as much as 140 km/h nearing the end of the passing lane. Yes, we all like to get where we are going, but the risk involved in doing something like this is selfish and totally unreasonable.

is there not a law that requires a vehicle to pull over and let others pass when he has 5 or more vehicles behind him?

In my experience the common understanding of "maximum speed" is the minimum speed one is supposed to drive in anything other than extreme conditions. The common complaint one hears is that some driver "wasn't even driving at the speed limit" as though that is an excuse for doing something stupid while driving.

I might disagree about honking my horn to alert the slower driver driving ahead of me. In my opinion that would make them angry, that I am honking at them.

Last spring my friend wanted a quicker X-ray then one that could be provided in Kelowna. She was lucky as one was available in Salmon Arm.

On the way back to Kelowna, I took highway 97B which connects Salmon Arm to Enderby. A very narrow 2 lane roadway with two solid no passing markings most of the distance. Unfortunately I caught up to a commercial strip van driving 76K in a 90K road.

This individual proceeded to slow down at times to 64K then sped up to 81K only to slow back down… the entire way from Salmon Arm to Enderby and because it was not safe to pass most of the 10 vehicles he was holding up didn’t pass however one stupid driver pulled out in the no passing area and blew by me to pass. They could have met another vehicle head on.  

Oh and by the way the license plate was obscured so I couldn’t make a note and report them. They turned down a side road in Enderby so I couldn’t get the name of the company to report this jerk.

I also disagree that slow drivers are hard to find. Our roads are infested by them especially on two lane roadways.

Final note… I agree and have experienced many many times following a slow driver who speeds up in passing lanes so only one or two vehicles can pass. It is very common and infuriating.

This sounds great in theory, but I would wager that the majority of drivers (myself included until today) are unaware of this practice.

This means that most drivers, upon hearing the individual behind them honk, will look at their speed and quite possibly INCREASE their speed "in compliance to the honk", which would of course result in the exact opposite of the desired behaviour.

Once again I find that laws and recommended driving practices are not very well known. We desperately need better and continued driver education.

Any suggestions on how to make that happen?

For ten years I drove extensively through the south interior. When the highways are curvy declining and asending, many drivers well below the speed limit. Once you get a straight-away and can pass them, of course, they speed up to the speed limit or greater. Happened all the time.

As someone who travelled millions of km over 40 years all over bc in all kinds of weather passing was often a real problem. Slower vehicles speeding up when you are abreast of them is a huge hazard. I always got by as quickly as possible (road conditions considered) eliminating concerns of oncoming traffic and possibly those behind. This law you describe is extremely dangerous and should be changed in the interest of safety. Whoever came up with it must ride a bike.