AskDefine | Define overtaking

Dictionary Definition

overtaking n : going by something that is moving in order to get in front of it; "she drove but well but her reckless passing of every car on the road frightened me" [syn: passing]

User Contributed Dictionary


Verb form

  1. present participle of overtake

Extensive Definition

Overtaking or passing is the act of driving around another slower automobile on a road. The lane used for passing or overtaking another vehicle is almost always the inside lane, toward the center of the road and away from the road shoulder — that is, to the left in places that drive on the right, and right in places that drive on the left.

Rules of overtaking

Note: In British English the meanings of inside and outside lanes are the reverse of US English. So in Britain, overtaking is performed using the outside lane, meaning the one farthest from the kerb / curb.
In some countries, including Australia, passing has a distinct meaning of passing a vehicle that is travelling in the opposite direction. In Australia, a narrow bridge may be signposted No overtaking on bridge, meaning that vehicles can pass in opposite directions but not overtake, or may be signposted No overtaking or passing on bridge, in which case one end of the bridge will have a give way sign on the approach.
On a two-lane road, the passing lane is often in the direction of oncoming traffic, and is usually only allowed on long straightaways with plenty of visibility. Despite the obvious danger, head-on collisions are relatively uncommon, mainly because there are so few people in such areas. The passing zone is generally indicated by a single broken centerline (yellow or white in most countries) if passing is allowed in either direction, or paired with a single solid line beside it to indicate there is no passing from the solid side.
In the Republic of Ireland, many national primary roads were upgraded in the 1990s and 2000s to wide two lane road (two lane road with space for three lanes, in addition to hard shoulders) to allow more space for overtaking (a very common manoeuvre in a country that had little dual carriageway until the early 2000s). However, due to the deceptive perception of safety given by such roads, future upgrade projects are likely to be 2+1 road where traffic volume suits (a successful pilot installation was used on the N20 near Mallow). This form of road is of similar profile to wide two lane, but includes a central crash barrier, and has three lanes, with an overtaking lane on one side or the other, alternating every 2 km. It has been used in Denmark and Sweden since the 1990s.
On a multi-lane highway/motorway or arterial road, any lane can be a passing lane though many in places (including Germany) passing in an outside lane is prohibited. Lanes are normally separated by broken lines (usually white) but may be a single solid white to indicate lane-changing is allowed but discouraged. Double lines indicate that passing or other lane-changing is prohibited, such as in tunnels or sometimes for HOV lanes and HOT lanes.
Overtaking in an HOV or HOT lane is usually illegal for cars that do not meet the HOV/HOT criteria, except when directed by police due to a car accident or other obstruction. Overtaking can also be illegal on highways because weaving in and out of traffic often leads other drivers to tap their brakes, slowing down the flow, contrary to the intent of the lanes.
A few places also use the one-broken/one-solid marking at entrance ramps, to indicate to highway drivers that the new lane merges and does not continue, so they do not attempt to pass in a lane that ends shortly. This is also used at other points where lanes merge.

Overtaking in racing

In racing there is no rule which side to overtake from. Overtaking can be done from either side. Generally side are classified as inside and outside overtaking, depending on position of overtaking car will be in outside or inside in the next curve since start of overtaking. Generally defending car blocks inside overtaking, since outside overtaking is riskier than inside overtaking.


External links

overtaking in German: Überholvorgang
overtaking in French: Dépassement
overtaking in Dutch: Inhalen
overtaking in Japanese: オーバーテイク
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