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Overtaking - don't get caught up wiht a vehicle turning right

As I've mentioned before, overtaking is never 'safe' and in fact, a quick look at the accident statistics reveals just how often motorcyclists get overtaking wrong. Passing another vehicle throws up a whole range of potential errors from misjudging speed and distance (and thus time to collision) to observation failures. Not least, we're always relying on the driver we're passing to do what we expect. Essentially we're always taking a calculated risk, so we should be making the pass in such a way as to minimise the chance of something going wrong. But some riders make one of the mistakes that also one of the easiest to avoid; don't overtake where there is a chance the vehicle we're planning on passing might turn right!

There's a slower vehicle we want to pass. But before we commit to the overtake, it's essential to engage our brain before we engage warp drive.

Let's start with the 'look and feel' of the situation. The vehicle ahead is moving rather slower than we'd expect. Does that mean it's an easy target for an overtake? Or should it set our Spidy Senses tingling that something's not quite right. Why might a vehicle be slower than us? It could simply be that the driver's not in so much of a rush. Or it could mean that the vehicle's about to make a manoeuvre.

Some years ago, we had a long debate on a forum after an experienced rider tailed a Landrover into a right-hand bend, with the Landie driver on the brakes all the way round. The rider knew the road, and that there was a straight after the bend, so he set up his position ready to overtake as soon as his view of the road ahead opened up. As it did, he cut to the other lane and started to accelerate...

...just as the Landrover continued to steer right, into a farm track he'd never noticed before.

The rider just avoided a collision.

There followed the usual debate about the failure of the Landrover driver to use mirrors or signals. But ultimately, it's our own responsibility to ask the question "What if...?" and to come up with the right answer. If there IS a place a vehicle CAN turn right, then sooner or later it WILL turn right.

And of course, what was forgotten in all the righteous indignation about the driver's failings was that "what goes in, must come out". The rider could have set up the same overtake behind another car, and pulled straight into the path of the Landrover turning right OUT of that farm track.

So it's not just the road ahead we need to ensure is clear, we need to scan for places a vehicle could turn in.

We need to look for side roads, access roads to car parks or delivery bays, driveways, farm tracks... and more besides. These entrances are often tough to spot. A side turning can be hidden by anything from a hedgerow to a parked van. It was a parked furniture removals lorry that caught me out years ago. It was parked on the grass, so given the long straight ahead, an overtake past a slower car seemed perfectly reasonable. Only at the last moment did I spot the car pulling out from the side turning - the driver hadn't seen either of us approaching thanks to the same van. Cominig back down the road the other way an hour or so later, I noticed the clue that would have warned me - the finger post pointing into that side road.

There are plenty of side turnings on rural roads, but also plenty of cottages, and each cottage has a driveway. They're often totally blind, concealed behind a neatly-trimmed hedge. The driver can't see out, and we can't see his car either. But there are usually plenty of other clues; the hedge is neatly-trimmed, perhaps with a sliver of mown grass. We might see flowers, a wheelie bin, and even the mirror on the opposite side of the road which the driver uses to compensate for his lack of view. As the No Surprise? No Accident Rhyming Reminder has it, "GAPS=TRAPS".

In town or country, it's tempting to overtake slow-moving delivery vans. But pause for a moment. What do delivery vans do? They deliver. If the driver is constantly slowing down then speeding up again, what's happening? Do you think it might be that he's trying to spot his delivery address? Is it a good idea to overtake as he slows down? Or should we be thinking about hanging back and waiting for him or her to find the building they're searching for? What if the van is simply driving slowly? Could the driver be in a strange town and checking the GPS or route signs to find his way? Is it a good place to nip past? If it's a hire van, and it's come from a different part of the country, that's more than likely. Even if we're looking at a car and thinking that there's no obvious reason for hesitant driving, it could simply be an inexperienced driver at the wheel. Or maybe it's a foreign visitor in a hire car, and not used to driving on our side of the road.

If we do decide we're going to overtake, try to give the driver chance to see us in the mirror. Once committed, pass decisively but slowly enough to be able to take avoiding action. And DON'T BE AFRAID TO SOUND THE HORN - it's what its there for. If the driver hasn't seen us coming, the horn will hopefully make him think twice before swinging across the road and into our path.

But don't give in to impatience. It's easy to do that, and then we get taken out by a driver turning right into an entrance we didn't see. We have to be pretty darn certain there's no way the driver could turn right before passing. There's a Rhyming Reminder rule for that too - "if you don't KNOW, you don't GO".

Overtake cautiously out there!

Kevin Williams
Survival Skills Rider Training

...because it's a jungle out there


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What is Survival Skills all about?

How are Survival Skills Courses put together and taught?
The Making of a Good Instructor - musings on my Driver Education course

Would a National Standard for advanced training be appropriate?
Writing a riding tip - what detail is necessary?
What to do if you've had an accident
Accident Statistics - dispelling some myths

Improver or advanced, pragmatism or perfection?
Piling on the miles
Compartmentalisation & Practice -  the key to learning new skills
Countersteering - Question and Answer

Braking Rules and Tips
Over-confidence and Riding at the Limit
Practice makes Perfect
The Danger of Misunderstanding
Learning from your Mistakes
A Moment of Inattention
Staying Warm
Staying Awake
Don't just ride for yourself, ride for others
Filtering - what's legal and how to do it
Cornering Problems 1 - Lean or Brake?
Springing into Summer - polishing off the winter rust
Group Riding - Rules and Tips
Awareness of Risk and Risk Management
Cornering Problems 4 - Stability and the "Point and Squirt" technique
Cornering Problems 3 - Staying out of trouble! Pro-active Braking or Acceleration Sense?
Cornering Problems 2 - Staying out of trouble
What is Risk?
Avoiding Diesel
The Vanishing Point - is it enough?
Posture - the key to smoother riding
When the Two Second Rule is not enough
Riding in the Dark
Roundabouts - straight lines, stability and safety
Slow Speed Control
Aquaplaning - what it is and how to deal with it
Rear Observation - when to & when not to!
Staying upright on icy roads
KISS - 'Keep it simple, Stupid' or Low Effort Biking
Overtaking Safety - avoiding vehicles turning right
Proactive versus Reactive Riding
Living with  Lifesavers
Which Foot? The Hendon Shuffle - Question and Answer
Carrying a passenger - Question and Answer
Riding in the rain
Riding in strong winds
Sorry Mate, I didn't see you - an analysis of SMIDSY accidents
Ever gone into a corner too hot and had it tighten up on you?
The Point & Squirt approach to corners
A time to live...
Target Fixation - Question and Answer
The Lurker, the Drifter and the Trimmer
The five most important things I learned as a courier
Overtaking - Questions and Answers
Precision riding - or keeping it simple?
Wide lines, tight lines, right lines - the law of Diminishing Returns
Surface Attraction
Euphoria - when your riding is just too good to be true
Straight line -vs- trail braking
Sit back, close your eyes, relax... and hope for the best
Before you overtake, do you...?
Do you need to blip the throttle on a downshift?
Holiday Riding Tips 1 - Dealing with hairpins (a new occasional series)
Holiday Riding Tips 2 - The (drive on the) Right Stuff
Why SMIDSYs happen
Avoiding dehydration - riding in hot weather
Riding errors - and avoiding them
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness - riding in fog
Where does Point and Squirt come from?
Overtaking - lifesavers and following distances
Offsiding - what is it, and why you should think before you do it!
Anger Management - dealing with "red mist" and "road rage"
That indefinable gloss
Overtaking on left-handers - experts only or best avoided?
Apex or Exit - what's important when cornering?

Developing 'Spidy Sense'

Armchair Riding - how to improve summer skills in winter

Working towards a BTEC in post-test instruction part 1

Working towards a BTEC in post-test instruction part 2

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