Overtaking

Overtaking can be dangerous. Information about safely overtaking cars and trucks and related penalties and offences.

When overtaking, make sure you have a clear view of oncoming traffic and use your indicator to signal your intentions to other drivers.

You must not exceed the speed limit.


Offences and Penalties

Offence Penalty Demerits
Failing to overtake at a safe distance $400 4
Overtaking at a railway/pedestrian/children’s crossing $400 4
Overtaking on continuous white line $150 3
Failing to overtake a bicycle at a safe distance $400 4
Overtaking to the left of a vehicle displaying a ‘do not overtake turning vehicle’ sign  $200 2

Overtaking on the Left

You are permitted to overtake on the left when:

  • driving on a multi-lane road;
  • directed by an authorised person (e.g. police officer);
  • the vehicle(s) in the right lane is stationary and it is safe to do so; and
  • a vehicle is indicating that it is turning right or making a U-turn.

Overtaking on the Right

This is permitted when both vehicles are travelling in the same direction and you are not crossing a continuous white line.

Overtaking a vehicle on the right is NOT permitted:

  • at a railway, pedestrian or children’s crossing;
  • at an intersection;
  • where there is a ‘no overtaking’ sign;
  • where there are single or double continuous centre lines; and
  • where you do not have a clear view of approaching traffic.

Overtaking Bicycles

  • Motorists are required to keep a minimum safe passing distance when overtaking cyclists.
  • When the speed limit is 60km/h or under, motorists must leave a gap of at least 1m when passing a bicycle rider.
  • When the speed limit is over 60km/h, the gap must be at least 1.5m.
  • The safe passing distance law allows drivers to cross centre line markings, including single and double continuous white lines and painted islands, to give the correct amount of space to the cyclist, but only when it is safe to do so, and when the driver has a clear view of oncoming traffic.
  • If it is not possible to safely overtake, slow down and wait until it is safe to overtake.
  • Motorists should check blind spots for riders before moving left or right on the carriageway.
  • Motorists are only permitted to drive in a marked bicycle lane for 50m to stop or park in a designated parking area.
  • Public bus and taxi drivers may also drive in a bicycle lane for up to 50m, if the driver is dropping off or picking up passengers.

For more information about cycling, see our Cyclists page.


Overtaking Heavy Vehicles Safely

In 2020, 90 people were seriously injured in crashes involving heavy vehicles.

Overtaking Road Trains

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Australia is home to some of the largest trucks in the world. Road trains range in length from 33 metres to up to 60 metres, and common sense and care is required to safely overtake these vehicles.
  • It can take some time to safely overtake a road train, so take your time and stay several car lengths behind the truck.
  • Be patient and wait for a long stretch of straight road with a clear view of what is ahead.
  • When it is safe to pass, indicate, move over the centre lane, accelerate to the posted speed limit, and overtake sensibly.
  • Only return to the left-hand lane once you can see both headlights on the truck in your rear-view mirror.
  • If you are towing a caravan or trailer, or the road conditions are less than ideal, it is best not to try and overtake at all. Wait for an overtaking lane, where it is safe to do so.

Beware of a Truck’s Blind Spot

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Drivers of heavy vehicles and truck use their mirrors to stay aware of what is around them, but if you sit in a truck’s blind spot you will be invisible to the driver.

If you can’t see the sideview mirrors on a truck while travelling behind the vehicle, the driver cannot see you approaching.

Drivers are also unable to see vehicles at various points around the vehicle, particularly the left-hand side, so if you’re a driver, motorcyclist, cyclist or pedestrian, stay clear of the passenger door and make yourself visible to the driver.

Stopping distances for heavy vehicles

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Do not cut in front of a truck or heavy vehicle as the weight behind the vehicle means the driver may not have enough room to stop before hitting you.

Trucks and heavy vehicles weigh a lot more than the average vehicle on the road, and therefore require extra stopping distance at traffic lights, stop signs and traffic congestion.

Trucks and heavy vehicle drivers purposely leave a large space between their vehicle and the vehicle in front, to allow enough braking distance when required.

Tips from Truckies

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We recruited WA heavy vehicle drivers to share their tips for safely sharing the roads with trucks, as well advice for fellow drivers to stay safe behind the wheel.

 

Page reviewed 9 September 2021