Just passing by…
I remember driving along a two lane highway late at night with my family in the vehicle. It was very light traffic, but another driver was approaching quickly from behind. They ended up getting pretty close to us and I wondered if they were going to pass us. They didn’t. They continued to drive very close behind us, even though they had enough time to pass us since there were few vehicles on the road. Why wouldn’t they pass?
To help initiate the pass, I decided to ease off the gas so they would feel they needed to go around us. Tailgating us put my family at risk if I had to suddenly stop my vehicle. This plan didn’t work as they continued to tailgate us. To finally force their hand, I eased over to the shoulder to give them room to my left and they finally passed us. As they approached the driver ahead of me, they ended up doing the same thing to that driver as they did to us; tailgate instead of pass. I then realized they didn’t know how to pass another vehicle. So the question is; when and how should you pass?
I’ll teach my students at Young Drivers of Canada to pass a slower moving driver on a two lane highway, but with a few rules. First, the vehicle in front of them must be going slowly enough that it warrants going around them. Second, they must be able to pass them safely with clear visibility. Third and last, they must not have to exceed the speed limit in order to do all of that.
To pass safely, you must first be able to look well ahead of you to determine if it’s safe to pass. Ensure there isn’t another vehicle for at least a kilometre. Lane markings can let you know if visibility is good. A broken line says you’re allowed to pass. It doesn’t mean it’s safe to pass. A few years ago I had to avoid a head on collision with my family in my van. (I just HAD to write about it http://bit.ly/cIKHL8 ) Obviously, that driver wasn’t following the rules I teach.
Once you’ve determined that you have time and space to pass, check your mirror to see if another vehicle behind you is trying to do the same thing. Signal and check your side mirror and blind spot. Once it’s clear, accelerate as your change lanes.
Accelerating while changing lanes means you won’t need to be in the oncoming lane any longer than you need to. If you wait until you’ve changed lanes before accelerating, it will take you longer to perform that manoeuvre; thus leaving you in the oncoming lane longer. As you accelerate, ensure you’re not surpassing the speed limit. There’s no reason to drive over the speed limit when passing another vehicle, if they weren’t driving as fast as you wanted them to, relax. You’ll still get to your destination in time.
Once you’ve passed the slower moving vehicle, ensure you can see both of their headlights in your rear view mirror before changing back into your lane in front of them. This creates enough space between you and them before you change back so you avoid a tailgating moment behind your vehicle.
Now that you know how to pass a slower vehicle, maybe now it can be done safely. For those of you with some inexperienced drivers in your family, please pass on this information.