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larrylamb11

279 posts

137 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
You appear to have forgotten one golden rule - that of mechanical reliabilty. A car is a machine, they aren't 100% reliable. They are pretty close to that but they can and do break. Technically you shouldn't commit to an overtake that relies on your car maintaining full mechanical ability to be achieved safely - any move should have a big enough safety margin to allow your car to expire in a puff of smoke right at the moment you are alongside the car you are overtaking and still be able to finish the move / abort without other road users having to take evasive action or causing inconvenience. In the instance you have highlighted, it doesn't sound like you would have had enough room to do that and in my book that would rule out an overtake. Cue the nay-sayers claiming 'overkill' but actually its more about increasing your overall safety margin so the likelihood of any coming together is reduced (be that another road user or road furniture / scenery).
The same really applies to braking. You shouldn't ever really bowl into something with such gusto that a brake failure will see you pirouette into the bushes or sail out into a main road.... meaning entry speed needs to be determined and arrived at in sufficient time to allow safe emergency retardation (gears or e-brake) to achieve the same result if the primary brakes have failed. That either means lower arrival speed or earlier braking. I know the modern way of instructing is to not use gears to retard the car but to rely solely on brakes on the assumption that brakes never fail - well they do. It is rare, but it does happen and its impressively arse-clenching!
Its very tempting to feel invincible in a car, particularly a fast one, but if you remember that it is just a machine, isn't infallible and that driving it needs to take account of its potential shortcomings, then your overall driving standard and safety can only improve.

Nigel_O

397 posts

105 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
Am I alone in thinking that assuming your car will expire while planning an overtake is a step too far?

Surely, if every manouevre we ever did had to take into account the possibility of the car failing in some way, we would never get off the driveway, let alone dare to overtake something.

Same for braking - the post above suggests that a driver shouldn't perform any manouevre that would cause an accident if the brakes failed. If this is the poster's view, then merely leaving home is a danger that's best avoided. You can't take the bus either, just in case the brakes fail on that. Trains are just as bad - the brakes might fail a mile from Euston and you'll plough into the buffers. As for flying - not a chance, as the pilot won't have a plan for the eventuality of the wings falling off.

In fact, you can't even walk, as your laces might snap, which would mean you'd get in the way of other pedestrians.

Nope - best stay in bed all day....rolleyes

We HAVE to place faith in the mechanical abilities of a car and we HAVE to take risks. If you drive at 70mph on a motorway, you are absolutely at the mercy of your brakes and tyres remaining intact. If either fail, you are in serious trouble. Its simply not practical to adapt your driving style so that you could cope with the eventuality of a significant mechanical failure.


otolith

26,096 posts

90 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
DuncanDisorderly said:
Admittedly it has been a while since my driver training (makes mental note to do some more) but I was always told about the dangers of overtaking on single carriageways as this is the one time when you cross the white lines onto the oncoming traffic side of the road.
It's only paint, you know.

(prime offsiding argument, light fuse, run)

larrylamb11

279 posts

137 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
Thats why I said 'technically' wink In the real world you can't drive everywhere assuming parts of your car might fail... it should just be kept in mind. When 100% mechanical reliability is required for a 'do' or 'die' situation (like the overtake discussed here) then there is a good case for NOT carrying out the move - its simply less risky. Driving is always a risk and reward equation (as is evry aspect of life to be fair) that you, as the driver, are in charge of - the lowest risk is, as you say, to stay in bed, the highest, to steal a fast car and joyride through the night with the lights off on the wrong side of the road..... its simply a question of finding a place within the scale you are happy with.
BTW using an aircraft ananolgy is misleading as clearly they DO rely on 100% mechanical reliabilty, which is also why the maintenance is tightly regulated, documented and scheduled to build in a sufficiently large margin of error that mechanical failures in service are (as near as possible) eliminated. The same is NOT true of cars.

davepoth

23,313 posts

85 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
Nigel_O said:
We HAVE to place faith in the mechanical abilities of a car and we HAVE to take risks. If you drive at 70mph on a motorway, you are absolutely at the mercy of your brakes and tyres remaining intact. If either fail, you are in serious trouble. Its simply not practical to adapt your driving style so that you could cope with the eventuality of a significant mechanical failure.
Yes it is. It depends on the significant mechanical failure, but you aren't doing it right if you don't know what to do if you have a blowout or brake failure.
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LeoSayer

4,724 posts

130 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
Somewhatfoolish said:
Is there any responsibilty on the behalf of an advanced driver to moderate tight overtakes? I made one today that was entirely safe; I actually made it towards an car that was already at the head of a queue and travellign quite slowly
Such cars are candidates for being overtaken themselves.

I can tell you from experience that being in the middle of 'safe' overtake and then being faced with an oncoming car being overtaken is rather scary.

Best advice is not to go for any overtake which could classed as tight, even moderately so.

6potdave

1,379 posts

99 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
Perception of what is dangerous and what isn't varies somewhat from person to person so how is the OP supposed to gauge this? I have gone for overtakes before and counted a good 10-15 seconds before the car on the opposite side has gone by and I've still had a flash. Realistically I could have overtaken the car maybe 3 times in a row before it was risky.

Bikers will know this very well, I used to get flashed on the bike quite a lot through people over-reacting to overtakes. I think we are all guilty of carrying out an overtake that afterwards makes you think "that was a bit stupid" but in 9/10 cases its the other person panicking!

Tiggsy

8,191 posts

138 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
The OP described his overtake as being "suicidal" in a 1.4l car - this sounds like what it was, a tight overtake that he only made because he had a fast car and in doing so "horrified" the oncoming traffic. Lets not be all "we know best and the general public dont realise how good we are" - it was a daft overtake, no big deal...but to come here and moan about the reaction to it is daft.

otolith

26,096 posts

90 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
Tiggsy said:
but to come here and moan about the reaction to it is daft.
I didn't read it as moaning - he appears to be considering whether, given the reaction it provoked, he should not have taken a safe overtake in case it frightened the metaphorical horses.


StressedDave

757 posts

148 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
otolith said:
I didn't read it as moaning - he appears to be considering whether, given the reaction it provoked, he should not have taken a safe overtake in case it frightened the metaphorical horses.
If it frightens the metaphorical horses and they bolt, then it's not a safe overtake...

otolith

26,096 posts

90 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
StressedDave said:
otolith said:
I didn't read it as moaning - he appears to be considering whether, given the reaction it provoked, he should not have taken a safe overtake in case it frightened the metaphorical horses.
If it frightens the metaphorical horses and they bolt, then it's not a safe overtake...
Which, as one cannot know how nervous oncoming drivers might be, implies that there is no such thing as a safe overtake.

davepoth

23,313 posts

85 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
otolith said:
StressedDave said:
otolith said:
I didn't read it as moaning - he appears to be considering whether, given the reaction it provoked, he should not have taken a safe overtake in case it frightened the metaphorical horses.
If it frightens the metaphorical horses and they bolt, then it's not a safe overtake...
Which, as one cannot know how nervous oncoming drivers might be, implies that there is no such thing as a safe overtake.
And that's probably why so few people overtake any more.

StressedDave

757 posts

148 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
otolith said:
Which, as one cannot know how nervous oncoming drivers might be, implies that there is no such thing as a safe overtake.
Not exactly, but choosing to overtake these days requires additional consideration beyond 'can I actually get the overtake done?'. There are still plenty of opportunities that won't scare the horses, so much so that there isn't the need to go for the tight ones. If you imagine that most drivers aren't looking terribly far ahead, you can complete the overtake before they even realise you've done it.

Sure back when I was young and really talented, I'd have thought nothing of doing exactly what the OP did, quite possibly with the same level of arrogance of 'It was perfectly safe, what's the problem?' attached. Then I spent 10 years dealing with the aftermath and grew up a bit sharpish. I've spent the last ten years or so trying to help others to not have to deal with the aftermath.

otolith

26,096 posts

90 months

[news] 
Tuesday 13th March 2012 quote quote all
Quite so - but there are drivers who are alarmed by any overtake, and you can't guarantee that there isn't (or won't be) one of them coming the other way, however large the margin of safety. All you can aim for is to behave reasonably.


mjb1

1,140 posts

45 months

[news] 
Wednesday 14th March 2012 quote quote all
Somewhatfoolish said:
The majority of drivers have no idea, or at least seem not to have, of how quickly one can overtake in even a not especially quick car, but faster than they know about.

Is there any responsibilty on the behalf of an advanced driver to moderate tight overtakes? I made one today that was entirely safe; I actually made it towards an car that was already at the head of a queue and travellign quite slowly, and it was within a fairly restricted piece of space which I could already see - so it was a perfect overtake from my POV - but from theirs it may have been worrying as it was from a gap in traffic here - it was perfectly safe in my car but would have been suicidal in a 1.4 litre citroen or something.

Anyhow there was a look of terror in the peopel I was overtaking towards, even though there were several seconds between my leaving their side of the road and when we'd have hit. Actually there was a bit more thna that but I could see they'd done a comfort brake - not a proper emergency brake but a tap thing... the thing that emergency brake assist is for.

But they could have floored it and not hit me. From a purely physical POV, there was nothing wrong with my overtake.

I am wondering though... what' the A/D perspective on worrying peopel who are driving towards you when overtaking. Now I am driving reasonably powerful cars this is happening more and more often and it seems almost a moral question... should us that have reasonable speed/distance/time computation slow down just to avoid worrying basically senile or generally confused people?

It's a conundrum.
So you're saying that you can make the overtake because you've got a 'powerful' car, but there's no way the oncoming vehicle could be a powerful car also? It would be moderately rare to have enough space to perform an overtake with an oncoming vehicle visible in the distance and be able to judge how fast it it going, and how much space is available. Plus you don't know what the person you are trying to overtake is going to do - recently it feels like more than half of the cars that I overtake start to speed up when they realise they are being overtaken, after previously dawdling along. You're trying to judge the performance of two other cars, and factor in their drivers behaviour all in a very brief moment. You're making quite a few assumptions there, and assumption is the mother of all foul ups.

I've made lots a few overtakes where the raod is clear as far as can be seen, and I'm reasonably sure that if something did round the corner and come into view travelling towards me, that I'd have enough time to complete the maneouvre. I've never had to bail out of an overtake yet, or forced anyone to take evasive action. But when an oncoming vehicle does come into view, I sometimes of get the flashing headlights treatment - these tend to be the same people that flash their headlights at you after you've just overtaken them.

davepoth

23,313 posts

85 months

[news] 
Wednesday 14th March 2012 quote quote all
mjb1 said:
Somewhatfoolish said:
The majority of drivers have no idea, or at least seem not to have, of how quickly one can overtake in even a not especially quick car, but faster than they know about.

Is there any responsibilty on the behalf of an advanced driver to moderate tight overtakes? I made one today that was entirely safe; I actually made it towards an car that was already at the head of a queue and travellign quite slowly, and it was within a fairly restricted piece of space which I could already see - so it was a perfect overtake from my POV - but from theirs it may have been worrying as it was from a gap in traffic here - it was perfectly safe in my car but would have been suicidal in a 1.4 litre citroen or something.

Anyhow there was a look of terror in the peopel I was overtaking towards, even though there were several seconds between my leaving their side of the road and when we'd have hit. Actually there was a bit more thna that but I could see they'd done a comfort brake - not a proper emergency brake but a tap thing... the thing that emergency brake assist is for.

But they could have floored it and not hit me. From a purely physical POV, there was nothing wrong with my overtake.

I am wondering though... what' the A/D perspective on worrying peopel who are driving towards you when overtaking. Now I am driving reasonably powerful cars this is happening more and more often and it seems almost a moral question... should us that have reasonable speed/distance/time computation slow down just to avoid worrying basically senile or generally confused people?

It's a conundrum.
So you're saying that you can make the overtake because you've got a 'powerful' car, but there's no way the oncoming vehicle could be a powerful car also? It would be moderately rare to have enough space to perform an overtake with an oncoming vehicle visible in the distance and be able to judge how fast it it going, and how much space is available. Plus you don't know what the person you are trying to overtake is going to do - recently it feels like more than half of the cars that I overtake start to speed up when they realise they are being overtaken, after previously dawdling along. You're trying to judge the performance of two other cars, and factor in their drivers behaviour all in a very brief moment. You're making quite a few assumptions there, and assumption is the mother of all foul ups.

I've made lots a few overtakes where the raod is clear as far as can be seen, and I'm reasonably sure that if something did round the corner and come into view travelling towards me, that I'd have enough time to complete the maneouvre. I've never had to bail out of an overtake yet, or forced anyone to take evasive action. But when an oncoming vehicle does come into view, I sometimes of get the flashing headlights treatment - these tend to be the same people that flash their headlights at you after you've just overtaken them.
In the situation above, I'd be thinking "queue of traffic coming the other way, and there's room for me to make a move; what if someone tries the same thing coming the other way?"

Quite a few variables in play, and I'm not sure I'd have had time to process them all fully before starting the pass.

waremark

1,928 posts

99 months

[news] 
Wednesday 14th March 2012 quote quote all
If overtaking towards an oncoming vehicle travelling at the same speed as me, I like to think of the distance between us in thirds - one third for the distance I will travel between committing to the overtake and getting back to my side of the road, one third for the distance the vehicle towards me will travel, and one third for safe seperation. When overtaking without an oncoming vehicle, I sometimes like to check whether I am back on my own side within one third of the distance I could see to be clear.

In the past I have 'calculated' that to overtake a car travelling at 40 mph you will accelerate to about 60 mph, and you need to be able to view about 600 m to be clear. I say 'calculated' because there are so many variables.

You can test your judgement when driving on a dual carriageway. Follow a slow moving vehicle, and looking at the oncoming traffic check how far away the first oncoming car has to be for an overtake to be safe.

When I overtake with an oncomer I do use the left indicator to attempt to reassure the driver that I know he is there and am confident of being out of his way in good time. However, very occasionally I do get flashed at, and I agonise over whether I have cut things too fine; it happened a couple of weeks ago, although I considered that I was back on my own side of the road well before meeting the oncomer. I happened to have the very good fortune to be driving a friend's fabulous Ferrari, and I wondered whether the nature of the car contributed to the flash.

waremark

1,928 posts

99 months

[news] 
Wednesday 14th March 2012 quote quote all
PS Overtaking is one of the most difficult aspects of driving to judge, as well as one of the most dangerous. If in doubt, don't. It is never a bad decision not to overtake.

7db

5,951 posts

116 months

[news] 
Wednesday 14th March 2012 quote quote all
waremark said:
When I overtake with an oncomer I do use the left indicator to attempt to reassure the driver that I know he is there and am confident of being out of his way in good time. However, very occasionally I do get flashed at, and I agonise over whether I have cut things too fine
Positive lateral movement towards the nearside can help with the left indicator as well to create a "heading back" impression.

I always wave a friendly wave if I get a flash. It can diffuse, thank, apologise and much more. Such a versatile gesture.

Pontoneer

3,464 posts

72 months

[news] 
Saturday 17th March 2012 quote quote all
Nigel_O said:
However, from a personal rant perspective, it grieves me how few people know what a car can really do and are so scared of themselves and their cars that they end up holding up dozens or even hundreds of cars.

I was about 10th in a queue of slow moving traffic on my commute home last week - about 6:30pm, so getting quite dark - at the head of the queue was a small Fiesta-sized hatch. Despite only doing around 30mph in a NSL, it was braking almost every time a car came the other way and for EVERY bend, no matter how gentle. The final straw came when it braked three times down to around 20mph for a bend that can easily be taken at 30mph ABOVE the NSL - despite a generally decent tolerance of driving muppetry, it makes my blood boil that people like this are still driving, so I found myself shouting at them - pointless and stupid, I know, but it maed me feel better! A cracking example for compulsory re-testing, if ever there was one....
Nigel , I wonder if it was an elderly person with failing eyesight who really ought to have given up driving ?

Being barely able to see , hence slowing for EVERY bend , and slowing for every approaching car because they were dazzled by oncoming headlamps might explain this behaviour .

It does not make the driving any more acceptable , but perhaps goes some way towards understanding .

I remember seeing an example of this a few months ago , on the dual carriageway leading from Hamilton up to East Kilbride traffic was coming to a near standstill with everyone moving to the right hand lane , breakdown I thought , only when I eventually reached the obstruction it turned out to be " Mr Magoo " in a beat up old Astra , hunched forwards over the steering wheel and wearing glasses that resembled milk bottle bottoms , all the time doing no more than 20 mph on a 60 limit dual carriageway where many drivers do 70 plus !
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