Can you speed to overtake?
A question we get asked from time to time is: can you speed to overtake? Let’s say you’re stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle. You approach a passing lane, or you get to a long stretch of road you can see far ahead. Can you exceed the speed limit while passing the slow vehicle before moving back to the right?
Are you allowed to speed while overtaking?
Short answer: no. It is an offence to speed while passing another vehicle. It is illegal to drive in excess of the posted speed limit at any time, regardless of whether you are overtaking.
People often assume they can go little over the limit when overtaking. On some of B.C.’s roads, such as those with bends and short passing lanes, it sometimes feels safer to overtake faster so you can move back over to the right.
The fact is, however, the Motor Vehicle Act prohibits driving in excess of the posted speed limit or above 50 inside a municipality and above 80 outside a municipality. So if a police officer witnesses you speed to overtake, they could fine you and give you penalty points. You don’t want those, trust us.
Duty when overtaking
The Motor Vehicle Act sets out what the driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle must do. They must pass to the left of the other vehicle at a safe distance. They also must not return to the right side of the highway until they are safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.
Increasing speed while being passed
OK, so you’re not allowed to speed while over taking but what about this scenario? You are driving behind a car going 60 km/hr on road with an 80 km/hr limit. You move over to the left and speed up to 80 km/hr so you can overtake but then car in front also raises their speed to 80 km/hr. Suddenly you’re driving on the wrong side of the road. What should you do?
The only way to avoid getting a ticket is to decrease your speed and move back behind the other car. However, it may come as a surprise that the driver of the vehicle you tried to overtake committed an offence here.
Under the Motor Vehicle Act, except where passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle must give way to the overtaking vehicle if they hear an audible signal. Also, the overtaken vehicle must not increase their speed until they have been completely passed.
So if a driver increases their speed while being passed and causes the overtaking driver to exceed the speed limit, it’s feasible that each driver could end up with a traffic ticket.
Are there any defences if you speed to overtake?
If you speed to overtake and an officer sees you do it, you can be charged. However, we have successfully defended many clients who said they were given a ticket after passing a slow driver. There are defences that may be available to you.
You might be able to plead that you had no other option than to exceed the speed limit. This is known as the defence of necessity. This can be difficult to pull off because the defendant has to prove the speeding was unavoidable and there was no reasonable course of action.
A necessity defence was successfully used in this case. The defendant was travelling behind a tourist bus which started to slow down aggressively. He pulled out to pass the bus when a large transport truck pulled out at the same time.
The defendant testified that given its size and speed he feared it would rear-end him so he accelerated to pass the bus and he had no option but to speed so he could pass without being involved in a crash.
If you have been charged with speeding, the BC Driving Lawyers can help. Call us for a free consultation on 604-6080-1200.