Overtake Safely - Automobile Association Of Singapore

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Overtake Safely

Overtaking is one of the most risky manoeuvres on our roads. It demands a clear knowledge of what is ahead as well as behind your vehicle. The secret to safe overtaking is to anticipate what could possibly happen during the overtaking process. Minimising oneself from danger is one of the first rules of overtaking. The way to achieve this is to maximise acceleration by using the most appropriate gear to conclude the overtaking manoeuvre in the shortest possible time. One of the major causes of road accidents is improper overtaking. To help you avoid accidents, below are 10 steps to a safe overtaking process:

Stay Back

Maintain a safe following distance. Always remain 3 seconds behind the vehicle in the front. Many drivers tend to forget what they learn about safe following distance when they start to overtake. They follow too closely behind the front vehicle and then dart out onto the right side as soon as there’s an opening. This is hazardous because the vehicle in the front may stop suddenly. Moreover, the closer you are to the front vehicle, the less you can see ahead.

Check Ahead

Next, check for oncoming traffic and the road space available. Make sure that the approaching traffic is beyond your 12-second visual scan and that there is no road hazard within the 12-second distance. Remember that it takes about 10 seconds to complete your overtaking manoeuvre.

Glance Behind

Check traffic behind. Do not pull to the right until you know what is behind you. Always be mindful that the driver behind may want to overtake you too. Use your mirrors and also turn your head to the right to check your blind spot for any vehicle.

Signal Right

Use the right signal to indicate to the driver behind you of your intention. You should signal for at least 5 seconds before you start overtaking. You may need to re-adjust your 12-second scan at this point as the vehicle you are overtaking or the oncoming vehicle may change speed.

Move Right

Once you are sure that you are following at a safe distance and teh road ahead is clear, moce onto the right hand side. Give the vehicle you are overtaking adequate space. Be careful and always maintain control.


By now, you are sure that you will be overtaking and your vehicle is between two lanes or on the lane of oncoming vehicles. This is a dangerous position for you to be in. So, accelerate and overtake as quickly as possible. You may have to change to a lower gear to allow more power and acceleration.


Now that you are in the blind spot of the vehicle you are overtaking, tap your horn or flash your headlights if the driver of the vehicle you are overtaking does not seem to be aware of your intention.

Signal Left

You must let the driver of the vehicle you have overtaken know of your intention to get back into lane. After you have passed his vehicle, use your left signal to indicate that you are returning to the left side of the road.

Move Left

Return to the left side as soon as you can see the front of the vehicle you have just overtaken from your rear view mirror. Be careful not to cramp the vehicle you have just passed. 10 Resume Speed Switch off your signal. Now that you have safely completed overtaking, resume driving the speed you were at.

Resume Speed

Switch off your signal. Now that you have safely completed overtaking, resume driving the speed you were at.

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