By Lauren Ferrone
Published: Thursday, December 5, 2019
Ever had a car zoom past you in an effort to overtake your vehicle before the lane ends? Perhaps you’ve pushed the limits of your accelerator to pass a B-double truck. It occurs daily on our roads, so it’s no surprise many believe it’s acceptable – even legal – to exceed the speed limit when overtaking.
In fact, a RAA survey earlier this year revealed 73% of motorists regularly travel over the speed limit when overtaking. Here’s why you might want to ease off the accelerator instead.
In the eyes of the law, overtaking is not an excuse for speeding. The Australian Road Rules explicitly state that it’s illegal for motorists to exceed the speed limit under any circumstance, including when overtaking.
It can also be dangerous. From 2012-17, there were 354 crashes related to overtaking without due care. Of these, 11 were fatal.
Most crashes occurred on rural roads with higher speed limits, such as the Stuart and Augusta highways.
RAA members tell us that there aren’t enough overtaking lanes on many of the state’s regional highways and, in some cases, they aren’t long enough for motorists to pass vehicles at the legal speed limit – one of the reasons RAA advocates for more overtaking lanes to be constructed.
Need for speed
The percentage of motorists in South Australia who travel over the speed limit when overtaking.
According to RAA Senior Manager Safety and Infrastructure Charles Mountain, the real problem lies in the state of our roads, especially in regional and rural areas.
“Many rural highways don’t have enough overtaking lanes to keep up with the volume of traffic, which can lead to deadly consequences,” Mr Mountains says.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
“Overtaking can be safe provided everyone does the right thing. For instance, if you’re about to be overtaken, maintain your speed to allow the other vehicle to safely pass.”
As a rule of thumb, you need a kilometre of clear road to safely pass a car travelling at 90km/h on a 110km/h road without exceeding the speed limit.
Motorists caught overtaking without due care, which can include speeding, may be required to attend court and face a maximum $2500 fine, as well as a $160 Victims of Crime Levy. The offence also incurs 3 demerit points.
Between 2012 and 2017, there were this many crashes related to overtaking without due care in South Australia.
How to overtake safely
Abide by ‘Keep left unless overtaking’ road signs. Always ensure there’s reasonable space for any vehicle wanting to pass yours, and don’t speed up while they’re overtaking as this is also considered an offence.
When overtaking, don’t cut in front of the vehicle you’ve just passed. Allow at least 2 seconds before merging back.
Lastly, when using an overtaking lane, watch out for when the left lane ends, as well as merging road signs. Remember: if you’re in the left lane, you must give way to any vehicle in the lane you’re merging into.
If there’s a road in South Australia you think could do with more overtaking lanes, you can have your say in our Risky Roads campaign.