Increasing Speed While Being Passed

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 traveling at or near the speed limit and another passing by in the left at a speed significantly in excess of the speed limit. 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 on reaching the passing lane.

My difficulty was that the passing lanes were good opportunities to travel at the speed limit compared to the highway leading up to them. 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 like hen's teeth.

"Isn't there a law about increasing your speed while being passed?" I was often asked. Yes there is. Except where passing on the right is allowed, a driver being passed must not increase their speed until they are completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

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

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Submitted by E-mail

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.

Interesting Point of View

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

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?

Submitted by E-mail

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.


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?

Not in British Columbia

However, some other places may. For instance the State of Arizona does.

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