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  • November 01, 2021 4 min read

    The advanced riding workshops held before various Banstead and Tatsfield meetings (see Tracker for details) are a very useful, and highly recommended, way for both Associates and full members to remind themselves of key concepts. One of the key topics covered in a past session was that of overtaking. Here is a summary of some of the key points raised and useful insights to bear in mind.

    Maximise your advantage

    The height, manoeuvrability and rapid acceleration of motorcycles are great advantages for overtaking. These features, together with their need for less road space than vehicles on four wheels, should make motorcycles the safest of all vehicles on which to overtake. The fact that they’re not is because riders fail to appreciate all of the hazards involved.

    Bad overtaking will let you down in more ways than one

    Good knowledge of overtaking principles is not only vital for safety and making progress, but also for passing the IAM test – at least 20% of failures on the advanced test over the past year have scored a 3 for overtaking.

    Double trouble

    If you collide with an oncoming vehicle, the speed of impact will be the combined speed of both vehicles – so a head on collision where both vehicles are travelling at 50 mph is the same as crashing into a stationary object at 100 mph.

    Don’t be a statistic

    The risk of death in a head on collision at 60 mph is at least 90%. Around 1 in 6 riders who are killed in a crash are killed whilst executing an overtaking manoeuvre.

    Ride your own ride

    Safe and well planned overtakes are vital in all riding situations, but this is particularly the case in group riding scenarios – never be tempted to ride or overtake beyond your capabilities or level of comfort – just because the rider in front overtakes, does not mean it is safe, appropriate or advisable for you to do so – remember to always ride your own ride.

    Is it worth it?

    Thinking, evaluating and executing an overtake are of little value if 50 yards after the overtake you have to stop at traffic lights or a junction, and the vehicle you have overtaken catches up with you.

    Don’t upset fellow road users

    Overtakes can be a source of conflict with other road users. Don’t stay in the following position longer than is necessary in order to avoid the risk of upsetting or intimidating other road users. Don’t forget to adhere to the two second rule.

    Remember OAP

    Whenever you are considering an overtaking opportunity, remember OAP – Observe, Anticipate, Plan. Is the overtake justified? Is it necessary? Above all, is it safe?

    Ask yourself the following

    Other key questions to ask yourself when evaluating an overtaking opportunity include –

    • Is there enough space to get by safely?
    • How fast are oncoming vehicles travelling?
    • Are there any “Blind Spots” ahead – dips in the road, hidden laybys, driveways, junctions or other hazards?
    • Is the vehicle ahead about to turn or overtake?
    • Is someone about to overtake you?
    • Can you see the space that you are going to return to after overtaking?
    • Does the road layout present a hazard?
    • Is there enough road width for me to overtake?
    • What is the speed of the vehicle(s) to be overtaken?
    • Is/are the driver(s) ahead likely to overtake?
    • Have I taken into account the speed and performance of my machine?
    • What is the likely response of the driver and occupants of the vehicle in front?
    • What is the speed of oncoming vehicles?
    • Is there a possibility of as yet unseen vehicles approaching at high speed?
    • What is happening behind?
    • Are any of the following vehicles likely to overtake me?
    • What distance do I need to overtake and regain a nearside gap safely?
    • What is an appropriate speed to complete the overtake, taking account of the hazards beyond the vehicle I'm overtaking?

    Overtaking is not a licence to break the rules

    An overtake does not give a free licence to break the speed limit – if you need to break the speed limit to overtake safely, it isn’t a viable overtaking opportunity.

    Don’t forget to look at the road markings

    A solid white line means overtaking is not permitted on that stretch of road (Rule 129 of the Highway Code). The only time it is permissible to cross a solid white line of this type is when (assuming it is safe to do so), you are entering adjoining premises or a side road, you need to pass a stationary vehicle, pedal cycle, horse or road maintenance vehicle if they are traveling at 10 mph or less.

    Adjust your position

    When considering a possible overtaking opportunity, maximise your vision by adjusting your position to allow the greatest view on what is ahead. This is important for all overtakes, but particularly when overtaking large or high sided vehicles.

    Avoid the common mistakes

    “How to be a better rider” dedicates a whole page to common overtaking mistakes – this is well worth reading and absorbing.

    Information, information, information

    All of the IPSGA concepts are of course vital when executing or evaluating an overtaking manoeuvre, but particularly the I of information. Have you just passed a warning sign indicating a concealed entrance, hidden dip, the no overtaking sign (a black car on the left and a red car on the right), or road markings? Can you hear emergency services sirens? Is the surface on the opposite side of the road conducive to a quick and safe overtake?


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