Overtaking 101: Tips on how to safely execute the maneuver on the road


Out there on the open roads, overtaking is one of the riskiest yet necessary maneuvers that drivers can do. And because some drive fast while others prefer a slower pace, safe and proper overtaking demands that you have a clear knowledge and spatial awareness of other vehicles, both ahead and behind you.


Safe overtaking requires drivers to lessen the danger through proper acceleration, using the appropriate gear to execute the overtaking maneuver and doing it in the quickest possible time. To help avoid accidents, below are five steps to overtake safely:

  • Maintain a safe space between you and the vehicle in front. This gives you ample time to react if the vehicle in front suddenly stops or decelerates. Monitor oncoming traffic and check if there’s enough road space ahead. Make a quick visual scan and ensure that there’s no other vehicle or hazard in front.
  • Check traffic behind you and be aware that other drivers may want to overtake you too. Use the mirrors and check blind spots. Use the signal lights to indicate your intentions to other drivers. Flash the signal lights for at least five seconds before proceeding with overtaking and watch out for other vehicles.
  • Once assured that there’s safe distance and clear road ahead, give the vehicle you are passing adequate space. Communicate with the other driver, tap your horn or flash your headlights and make the other driver aware of your intentions to pass.
  •  Accelerate and overtake as quickly as possible. You may have to change to a lower gear to give your vehicle more power and acceleration.
  • After passing the vehicle, conclude the overtake with a signal that indicates your intention to get back into lane. Return to the lane as soon as you can and be careful not to cram the vehicle you have just passed. Resume to normal driving speed.


Sometimes, you will be the one overtaken by others. If you are being overtaken, extend due courtesy to the other driver. Be sure to cooperate in order to keep you and the overtaking car safe. It’s actually better to decelerate when being overtaken so that the whole process is finished sooner, which makes it safer for everyone.


Republic Act No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code sets the legal speed limits and penalties for traffic violations with specific provisions about various aspects of traffic laws. Article II Section 39 to 41 of the law governs the rules on overtaking in Philippine roads.

“Overtaking a vehicle – The driver of any motor vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at a safe distance to the left thereof, and shall not again drive to the right side of the highway until safety clear of such overtaken vehicle except that on a highway, within a business or residential district, having two or more lanes for the movement of traffic in one direction, the driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle on the right. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a driver overtaking and passing, upon the right, another vehicle which is making or about to make a left turn,” states Section 39.

“Driver to give way to overtaking vehicle. – The driver of a vehicle about to be overtaken and passed by another vehicle approaching from the rear shall give way to the overtaking vehicle on suitable and audible signal being given by the driver of the overtaking vehicle, and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle,” says Section 40.

Meanwhile, Section 41 covers Restrictions on Overtaking and Passing, whereas the 1.) driver of a vehicle shall not drive to the left side of the center line of a highway in overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, unless such left side is clearly visible, and is free of oncoming traffic; 2.) driver of a vehicle shall not overtake or pass another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, when approaching the crest of a grade, not upon a curve in the highway, where the driver’s view along the highway is obstructed within a distance of five hundred feet ahead, except on a highway having two or more lanes and 3.) driver of a vehicle shall not overtake or pass any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction, at any railway grade crossing, not at any intersection of highways unless such intersection or crossing is controlled by traffic signal, or unless permitted to do so by a watchman.

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