Passing another vehicle puts you in a much more vulnerable position to have an accident that could potentially be fatal if you fail to follow certain basic steps. Generally speaking when you are passing a vehicle you tend to speed up to a significantly greater degree, you are in the wrong lane of traffic and you have exposed your vehicle to more potential dangers than if you had simply stayed in your own lane. However, passing is a normal part of driving and to lower the risk of creating a potential accident, here are a few good tips to keep in mind the next time you are considering passing another vehicle on a two-lane road.
Be sure you are legally allowed to pass on that section of the road.
Your first step should be to identify if you can legally pass the vehicle that is in front of you. This can be done by looking at the highway lines in the center of the road. If you are seeing double solid lines, then you are not legally allowed to pass and should not do so. Double solid lines are there for a good reason, that the particular section of the road has enough potential dangers that passing is an unwarranted risk. You should wait until you see a segmented or dotted lines or a single dotted line on your side of the road before taking the next step.
Also, do not pass if you are within 100 feet of a bridge, elevated structure, and tunnel, an upcoming curve in the road or the crest of a hill that restricts your view of upcoming traffic.
Check both ahead and behind you before you attempt to pass.
You should not only check the opposite lane to see if any vehicles are present, you should also check behind you to see if any vehicles are passing you. Plus, look at upcoming intersections where cars might appear from either side of the road that can move into the lane in which you are going to make your pass. Be sure to check your blind spots as well just in case.
Activate your turn signal to announce you are going to pass.
Activating your turn signal informs those in the vehicles in front and behind you that you intend to pass. That way, they can be prepared for your actions as well.
Accelerate when you are passing and activate your turn signal to indicate you are returning to your lane.
You want to use enough speed to comfortably pass the car ahead of you and then return to your own lane as well. The less time you spend in the opposite lane, the better but you do not want to speed up too fast that you lose the ability to safely check for any oncoming dangers.
Remember that under certain conditions you may pass on the right.
If the vehicle in front of you is making a left turn, you can pass on the shoulder of the road if the lane is wide enough to allow for passing. Check to make sure there are no stopped vehicles or objects on the shoulder that can inhibit your passing.