If you’ve ever been stuck behind a slow moving vehicle in a long line of traffic, then you are painfully aware of how time consuming this can be, especially when you are in a hurry. The usual remedy for this situation is overtaking, and when done correctly and safely, it can help to speed up travel.
However, too often, motorists have chosen to overtake, at the wrong section of the road, and at the most inopportune time, resulting in dangerous situations for themselves, passengers and other road users.
According to research conducted by the Mona GeoInformatics Institute, which mapped road crashes across Jamaica over a ten year period, improper overtaking ranked as the third highest cause for crashes, fatal and non-fatal, in Jamaica.
“We find that some motorists choose to overtake without considering important factors that may affect their decision,” Duane Ellis, General Manager of the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA), said.
He pointed out that, “Overtaking is generally permitted on a normal two lane road separated by a broken centre line; however, since there is always the possibility of vehicles coming towards you on the other lane, a driver must adopt extreme care while overtaking.”
Motorists should not attempt to overtake when it might cause conflict with other road users in circumstances, such as–approaching, or at a junction on either side of the road; where the road narrows, or when another road user would be forced to swerve or slow down.
“More and more we see some motorists making very risky decisions to overtake when it is not appropriate and this has resulted in crashes,” Mr Ellis stated. He explains that drivers must first consider factors, such as the condition of the road surface, other motorists, and the surroundings, before overtaking.
“In some instances, overtaking may not be necessary for example, if the vehicle in front is travelling at or near the speed limit or if a dual carriageway is not far away, overtaking is unnecessary,” he outlined.
Mr Ellis also warned that special care must be taken when overtaking large vehicles as they can obscure the view of the driver.
“In a situation like this, we advise motorists to pull back from the vehicle ahead, so that they can see ahead better and give the driver in front more chance to see you,” he explained, adding that drivers should never get too close behind a long or slow moving vehicle.
Motorists should also check that no other drivers behind them are attempting to overtake them and the large vehicle in front, before they attempt the maneuver.