The rules of overtaking on the road

Every year, nearly 1.25 million people are killed and up to 50 million people injured on the world’s roads.

In the last decade alone, road crashes rose from 2,597 to 3,503 in 2016 representing a growth of 25.9% according to a report on road safety performance in Uganda by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

The road crashes are caused by a number of reasons including poor overtaking, speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol, among others.

In 2018 alone, 4,728 road crashes were attributed to reckless driving according to the 2018 annual crime report by the Uganda police.

According to the Traffic and Road Safety Regulations 2004, several considerations must be made while overtaking on the road.

 As a rule, drivers overtaking another vehicle are only permitted to do so on the right side.

Recently, Allen Kagina, the executive director of Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), explained that driving on the right side when not overtaking is a major error that has led to several accidents, especially on the expressway as she launched the use of mobile money transactions for use of the Entebbe expressway.

However, drivers may overtake on the left side if the driver to be overtaken has signalled an intention to turn to the right and has moved his or her vehicle over towards that side in order to turn into another road, to enter a property bordering on the road, or to stay on that side.

The regulations state that before overtaking, every driver must make surethat no driver who is following him or her has begun to overtake and that the driver ahead in the same lane has not given warning of his or her intention to overtake another.

Also, the lane that is about to be entered should be clear far enough ahead, having regard to the difference between the speed of a vehicle while overtaking and that of the road-users to be overtaken so that oncoming traffic is not endangered.

“Overtaking should be done at a point where you can clearly view the road ahead but not in a corner where your sight is compromised,” says Faridah Nampiima, the spokesperson of the traffic directorate.

She adds that it is important to ensure that there is no vehicle from the oncoming lane when you plan to overtake.

The driver should also be able to resume position in the flow of traffic without disturbing it.

On two-way carriageways, overtaking is prohibited when approaching the crest of a hill and on bends, if visibility is inadequate, except when the entire manoeuvre may be performed in a lane closed to oncoming traffic (physically or by a continuous line marking).

When overtaking, a driver should also give the road-users being overtaken sufficient room for them to continue without the need to slow down or change direction.

A driver who perceives that a driver following him or her wishes to overtake him or her shall keep to the left side of the carriageway and refrain from accelerating.

In cases of narrowness, profile or condition of the carriageway, taken in conjunction with the density of oncoming traffic, a vehicle which is slow or bulky or is required to observe a speed limit cannot be easily and safely overtaken. Therefore, the driver of that vehicle should slow down and if necessary, pull in to the side as soon as possible in order to allow vehicles following him or her to overtake.

In 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) launched a new Decade of Action for Road Safety (2021–2031). The goal of the Decade is to stabilize and then half road traffic deaths by 2031.

On 19th September, Dr Nhan Tran, the Head of Safety and Mobility at the World Health Organisation (WHO) promised that WHO is dedicated to support legislators involved in promoting road safety.

One of the proposed interventions was to hold a regional dialogue to be hosted by Uganda with legislators having a multi-pronged approach on issues relating to road safety.

This goal can only be achieved once effective interventions are implemented or else road crashes are likely to increase and may even double within the next ten years.