Overtaking safely

Take care when overtaking on NSW roads. If you have any doubts, wait until it's safer. Before overtaking, always check your mirrors and blind spots.

Care when overtaking

Be careful when overtaking. You need to accurately judge the space you need to pass another vehicle safely. If you have any doubts, wait until it’s safer.

Always give other vehicles enough room to overtake, merge or change lanes.

When you must not overtake

You must not overtake another vehicle:

  • across an unbroken dividing line (single or double)
  • when you do not have a clear view of approaching traffic, for example, before a crest or curve or if you have limited visibility
  • when a vehicle is stopping or has stopped at a pedestrian crossing, intersection or railway crossing
  • where a road narrows.
When you must not overtake
Image (left):You must not cross a single unbroken line to overtake.
Image (right): You must not cross double unbroken lines to overtake.

How to overtake safely

The faster a vehicle is travelling, the more distance and time you need to overtake.

Before overtaking another vehicle:

  • check the road ahead is clear, with enough distance for you to safely overtake
  • check side streets and other lanes to make sure nothing will enter your overtaking space
  • check mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles and other vehicles
  • indicate to warn other drivers you intend to overtake.

When overtaking:

  • stay under the speed limit
  • make sure there’s room to move back into the lane (you should be able to see the vehicle in your rear vision mirror)
  • indicate when you move back into your lane.
Overtaking safely
Image (left):You can cross a single broken line to overtake if the road ahead is clear.
Image (right): You can cross a double line with a broken line closer to you to overtake if the road ahead is clear
No lines marked do not overtake sign
Road sign showing there's no road lines, so you need to take care overtaking.

Overtaking on the left

The only time you can overtake on the left is when the vehicle you’re overtaking is:

  • waiting to turn right or make a U-turn from the centre of the road
  • stopped
  • travelling on a multi-lane road.

To overtake a vehicle turning right or making a U-turn from the centre of the road, you can:

  • use the left lane
  • drive on, across or outside edge lines for up to 100m
  • drive in a bus lane, transit lane or truck lane for a maximum of 100m
  • drive in a bicycle lane or tram lane for a maximum of 50m.

Overtaking long vehicles

You should take extreme care when overtaking long or oversize vehicles such as a truck or bus or a vehicle towing a caravan or trailer. You should allow more time to pass and make sure you can see the road ahead.

Long vehicle sign
A long vehicle is longer than a normal vehicle.
Oversize sign
An oversize vehicle is wider, longer and/or higher than a normal vehicle.

Do not overtake turning vehicle

Some long vehicles have a ‘Do not overtake turning vehicle’ sign. These vehicles may use more than one lane when turning right or left.

Do not overtake turning vehicle
Do not overtake turning vehicle
Signs on the back of long or oversize vehicles that indicate you must not overtake them when they turn

When a vehicle displays a ‘Do not overtake turning vehicle’ sign, you must not:

  • overtake on the left when the vehicle is turning left
  • overtake on the right when the vehicle is turning right, unless it’s safe to do so.

When a vehicle displays a ‘Do not overtake turning vehicle’ sign, you must not overtake on the left, unless it’s safe to do so and:

  • you’re driving on a multi-lane road
  • the vehicle is stationary
  • the vehicle is turning right or making a U-turn.
Do not overtake long vehicle turning left
Do not overtake to the left of a long vehicle which is turning left.
Overtake a long vehicle on left side when safe
Overtake a long vehicle on the left when it's safe to do so and when on a multi-lane road.

Overtaking motorcycles

When overtaking a motorcycle, follow the same rules and give them as much space as a car.

Overtake a long vehicle on left side when safe
Give motorcycles plenty of room when overtaking.

Overtaking bicycles

When overtaking bicycles, you must allow a distance between you and the rider of at least:

  • 1m when the speed limit is 60km/h or less
  • 1.5m when the speed limit is more than 60km/h.

To overtake a bicycle, you should have a clear view of approaching traffic. Only overtake if it’s safe to do so. If necessary, when overtaking a bicycle you can:

  • drive to the right of the centre of the road
  • cross or straddle dividing lines (broken or unbroken, single or double)
  • drive on flat painted islands and median strips.

Bicycles can overtake a vehicle on the left.

When overtaking bicycles you must allow a distance between you and the bicycle
You can cross double dividing lines when overtaking a bicycle.

Overtaking on bridges

When there’s a ‘No overtaking or passing’ sign on a bridge, you:

  • must give way to vehicles approaching in the opposite direction
  • must not overtake any vehicle travelling in the same direction.
No overtaking or passing sign
Road sign indicating no overtaking or passing

When you’re being overtaken

You must not increase your speed when the other vehicle is crossing a dividing line or the centre of the road to overtake you.

When being overtaken, you should:

  • stay in your lane
  • keep left
  • allow room for the overtaking vehicle to pass and move back into the lane.

Keep left unless overtaking

On a road where there's a 'Keep left unless overtaking' sign or a speed limit of more than 80km/h, you must not drive in the right lane, unless you're:

  • overtaking
  • turning right
  • making a U-turn
  • not turning left and there's a 'Left lane must turn left' sign or traffic lights with a left arrow signal
  • avoiding an obstruction
  • driving in traffic that’s stopped or travelling slowly in the left lane
  • driving a bus or a truck and the right lane is for buses or trucks only
  • overtaking a slow vehicle making a left turn.
No overtaking or passing sign
Road sign indicating you must keep left unless overtaking
Share this page: