Last updated: August 2022

Can You Go Over the Speed Limit When Passing?

Getting stuck behind traffic is annoying. It might be a Sunday driver cruising a few miles below the speed limit—on a Monday morning. Or it could be a semi-truck, blocking the road and your visibility! The problem is that you may have to speed to get around them, but can you go over the speed limit when passing?

Is speeding legal when passing other cars?

Some states allow drivers to speed when passing slow vehicles. But, how fast can you go over the speed limit? It varies, but sometimes, when overtaking another car, you are allowed to exceed the speed limit by 10-15 mph. Typically, this applies to two-lane highways where the posted speed limit is 55 mph or higher. Some states that allow this are Idaho, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Washington.

Most states don't explicitly allow speeding, regardless of the situation. However, some police officers exercise discretion, allowing drivers to exceed the speed limit by a few miles per hour when passing (under certain circumstances).

Is speeding to pass the car in front of you worth it?

When the car in front of you is going 5 mph below the limit, and the motorists by you are going 20 over to pass the slow-moving vehicle, it's tempting to do the same! But think twice, advises AAA. Speeding doesn't save much time, and you risk getting pulled over.

Speeding is one of the most common moving violations. It comes with unfortunate consequences. There are fines. Then, there are points on your driver's license, which can jack up your insurance costs! In some cases, speeding can be flagged as careless or reckless driving, which carries heavier legal and financial penalties than "just" speeding and can result in a license suspension.

If you're worried about having too many points on your driver's license or high insurance rates, contact Direct Auto Insurance. We make it a point to provide drivers who've been turned away by other companies with affordable policies that meet their needs.

Also, keep the following tips in mind. They'll help stay safe on the road and on the right side of the law.

How to Pass a Slow-Moving Car

1. Check that it’s legal.

If you're on the highway, it's usually legal to pass another car. If you're on a two-lane road, you should double check for road signs and hazards that say otherwise. It's advisable to avoid overtaking vehicles in school zones and residential streets, and never pass a school bus that is loading or unloading kids. Additionally, look out for and follow "DO NOT PASS" and other similar signs, and remember that a solid yellow or white line between lanes means you should stay in yours.

2. Check that it’s safe.

Even if passing is legal where you're driving, use your better judgment to figure out if it's safe to do so. For example, passing could be dangerous...

  • If there isn't enough space for you to accelerate or if you're coming up on a curve.
  • If there's a long line of cars.
  • If the vehicle ahead of you is preparing to stop or turn.
  • When there's a steep grade ahead, or you have a limited sight distance.

Also, remember that accelerating uphill hurts your fuel economy, and passing downhill puts you at risk of losing control!

Even on highways, weather can be a significant factor. Rain or snow not only affect your car's handling, but they also affect the cars in front of you—making it harder for you to anticipate and react to their movements. Fog and even sunshine can compromise your ability to see both cars and the road ahead!

3. Do it properly.

Once you've done your due diligence, all that's left is to overtake the car in front of you. Using your mirrors, make sure the passing lane is clear. Push your turn lever down to activate your turn signal. Accelerate safely and pass the vehicle. Once you're past it, use your mirror to make sure there's enough space to return to the correct lane. Flip on your turn signal again, and slide back into the "right" lane. Don't forget to cruise back to a safe and legal speed once you’re done!

4. Pay it forward when you’re being passed.

Passing would be a lot easier if everybody observed proper driving etiquette. Part of that means doing the right thing when another car is passing you. Don't be the person that speeds up like it's a competition. If anything, slow down so the other car can get back into the lane quicker. Respect the passing lane (the center or left lane) by keeping right when you’re going at or below the speed limit.

While following these rules can help keep you within the law, there are many factors involved and tickets do happen. If you've had some bad luck on the road, visit your local Direct Auto office. We're happy to help you find the car insurance you need, regardless of your history.

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