Passing on the Left

Passing on the LeftWe tend to take this driving action for granted because we do it all the time. Indeed, I would not have considered writing on the subject without a reader's request. Time for a back to the basics column!

A quick check of the Motor Vehicle Act finds section 159. It simply states that a driver of a vehicle must not drive to the left side of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle unless the driver can do so in safety. Of course, this means everyone's safety, not just that of the driver doing the passing.

Section 160 continues with the requirement that a driver of a vehicle must not drive to or on the left side of the roadway, other than on a one way highway, unless the driver has a clear view of the roadway for a safe distance, having regard for all the circumstances.

Now we have to consider section 151 which tells us how to proceed depending on the lines painted on the road at the point where we wish to pass. Each solid or broken line, or combination of the two may permit or forbid passing on the left according to the type and color of the marking. This could be a column all on it's own.

Once we have decided it is safe, we can see sufficiently far, and the lines permit the movement, section 158 now says that a driver must cause the vehicle to pass to the left of the other vehicle at a safe distance, and must not cause or permit the vehicle to return to the right side of the highway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

Before we move to start or complete the pass, we must return to section 151 which requires us to make the appropriate signal when we move from one lane to another.

Lastly, a number of sections prohibit us from exceeding the speed limit in order to pass.

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