Many serious crashes on New Zealand roads are caused by dangerous passing.
To safely pass another vehicle, you need to be extremely careful. You need to have a clear view of the road ahead, to make sure you can finish passing safely. You must also pay close attention to the vehicle you are passing, in case it changes its course.
Passing on the right can be dangerous, especially if you have to:
Before passing, always ask yourself 'is it really necessary to pass?' Don't pass just because you are feeling impatient with the car in front – that's often when crashes happen.
If you do decide to pass, follow the rules shown below.
Before you pass:
Before pulling in front of a vehicle you have passed:
Passing on the right
Take extra care, and leave extra room, when passing cyclists, horses or pedestrians, as the wind gust of your vehicle could affect their balance.
You can only pass on the left when:
At all other times, when you are passing, you must pass on the right.
Passing on the left
Keep a safe distance behind the vehicle you are about to pass. Follow the two-second rule.
If you are being passed by another vehicle:
On some sections of road there will be a solid yellow line painted on your side of the centre line. This line is called a no-passing line.
No-passing lines are usually there because it's unsafe to cross the centre line to pass, because features like hills and curves make it impossible to see if there is oncoming traffic.
Sometimes no-passing lines are marked because:
You must not pass another vehicle if it means you have to cross over a no-passing line on your side of the centre line.
If you see a dashed yellow line on your side of the centre line, that means that a no-passing line is about to start.
While you may come back over the dashed yellow line to finish passing, you must not cross it to start passing.
As shown in the picture above:
You can pass at a no-passing line if:
Passing without crossing the no-passing line
If there is no solid yellow line on your side of the centre line, you may use the centre lane to pass as long as:
Don't use the centre lane to pass if there is an oncoming vehicle in the centre lane.
Passing on a three-lane road
Remember, it is against the law to cross over a no-passing line on your side of the centre line to pass another vehicle. But this isn't the only situation where you mustn't pass. This page shows you other situations where passing is both unsafe and illegal.
Illegal passing near a pedestrian crossing
Illegal passing on a curve
Don't pass any vehicle when you can't see at least 100 metres of clear road in front of you for the whole time while you are passing.
Illegal passing without 100 metres of clear road
Don't pass any vehicle at an intersection if it means you might get in the way of:
Illegal passing at an intersection
Illegal passing near a railway level crossing
Don't pass any vehicle if it means you have to drive over a flush median.
Illegal passing on a flush median
In some situations, you are allowed to pass another vehicle at an intersection; however, you need to be very careful when doing this.
In this situation, you can pass on the left if there is enough room in your lane for you to pass and the vehicle you are passing:
Don't pass if the vehicle has signalled a left turn.
Passing on the left at an intersection
In this situation, you can pass on the left if the vehicle you are passing is in a different lane and you can pass safely.
Passing on the left at an intersection
In this situation, you can pass on the right if you are turning right or going straight ahead.
Passing on the right at an intersection
You can cross the centre line to pass another vehicle if you can see that:
Be very careful that the vehicle you're passing isn't slowing down to turn right. The driver may have forgotten to indicate.
Passing by crossing the centre line at an intersection