Overtaking Bikes: You Are Driving Behind A Motorcycle And Want To Pass

overtaking a motorcycle

One of the most nerve-wracking things to do in a car is to overtake a motorcycle. Because they are so small and nimble it would be very easy to screw up the overtaking. You have to be very precise and decisive when doing so, or you can end up causing an accident.

There are most certainly right and wrong ways to overtake a motorcycle.

Motorcycle overtaking problems are different from those faced by drivers of other vehicles because the margin for error is so small.

People often make mistakes because they drive too fast and can’t slow down, or they don’t judge the correct speed to approach the motorcycle. Others don’t realize how much faster a bike is than their car.

Poor visibility is the key factor. If you are overtaking on a motorcycle, you must not depend on being able to see the motorcyclist in your car mirrors alone. Better judgment calls are required on the part of every driver. You need to concentrate more on what’s happening ahead of you so that you can gauge whether or not it is safe to overtake.

How to Overtake a Motorcycle

For example, when you’re following a car moving at 100 km/h, if it changes lanes you only have to travel about 10 meters before there is an opportunity to overtake. But if you follow a motorcycle traveling at the same speed and the rider moves into your lane, you will need to travel 50 meters or more before there is an opportunity for overtaking. So take care not to cut off motorcycles when changing lanes.

When passing motorcycles remember that most riders don’t have rearview mirrors so they often cannot see cars behind, even in their mirrors. Always sound your horn well in as some motorcycle riders may be wearing heavy leathers or have faulty hearing, and a passing car going through a pothole could cause the motorcyclist to fall. Wait for a good gap in the traffic before overtaking. Keep the motorcycle in your peripheral vision so you can see if it drifts left or right towards your lane as it accelerates past you.

Do not overtake at intersections unless there is no oncoming traffic, and never attempt an overtaking maneuver when approaching an intersection or traveling within the speed-limited area of a roadworks zone. A motorcyclist can see most of the cars coming towards him or her. But, if you are in a car you cannot tell whether or not the motorcycle rider has spotted your vehicle and is slowing down for you to overtake.

Things to Remember When You Overtake a Motorcycle

Here are a few things you must remember when you overtake a motorcycle:

1. Do not cut in front of a motorcycle

The motorcycle rider may be forced to brake suddenly and without warning. If you’re in a car, pull over and let the motorcycle pass by.

2. Do not accelerate to reach the next line of cars on a congested road

A motorcycle may be traveling at the same speed as the cars around it, but it is more vulnerable than they are. If you move into its path, it could be forced to break or even fall over. Wait for an opportunity to merge back in with other vehicles.

3. Be aware of motorcycles on sidewalks

Riders sometimes move onto the sidewalk when traffic is heavy. If you see a motorcycle on the footpath, move to another lane or slow down and wait for it to rejoin the flow of vehicular traffic before overtaking.

4. Check for motorcycles moving into another lane

If there is a motorcycle in the next lane, it has priority and you must wait for an opportunity to overtake.

Remember: Never make a high-risk overtaking maneuver on roads where the speed limit is 50 km/h or less. If your vehicle doesn’t have enough power to pull out safely, don’t try it.

6. Leave ample space when traveling behind them on wet roads

If it is raining, the motorcycle’s tires will have a much smaller surface area in contact with the road. This means they can lose traction more easily and will need a larger space to stop safely.

How Not to Overtake a Motorcycle

The following are all dangerous ways for cars to pass motorcycles:

1) Passing too close – There should be enough room between two vehicles that they can stop without locking their brakes, including a motorcyclist. Unless the motorcycle is traveling very slowly or parked, there should be at least a meter between the motorcycle and your vehicle.

2) Pulling out from behind a high-center line into a passing lane – This can trap the rider as oncoming vehicles approach from the opposite direction. Also, if you need to slow down suddenly for an unexpected reason, such as roadworks or another driver turning across your path, you could seriously injure the motorcyclist as your car blocks their escape route. You may not be able to see them in time to avoid them before they run into your rear window.

3) Passing on the right – This is illegal and dangerous because it forces the motorcycle into oncoming traffic, which can startle motorists who aren’t expecting to see motorcycles there. It can also force the motorcycle into your blind spot, where you may not be able to see them if they need to brake suddenly.


When you’re passing a motorcycle, remember to give it plenty of space and respect. Follow these guidelines for safe overtaking and enjoy the freedom that comes with sharing the road!

About The Author

daniel and sarah on motorcycle

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