Are Drivers Allowed to Exceed the Speed Limit to Pass Other Vehicles?
If you come up behind a slower car while driving, it’s reasonable to pass them when conditions are safe. But is it okay to exceed the posted speed limit when passing another driver? Here’s what you need to know.
Speeding While Passing Laws
Depending on where you live, it might be okay to exceed the speed limit when passing a slower driver. Some states have absolute laws when it comes to speed limits, which means nothing changes them. However, other states (like Texas) provide more flexibility based on driving conditions:
- Texas’s basic speeding laws forbid drivers from operating at a speed that is not reasonable based on the current circumstances. The law acknowledges that the posted speed limit is not always the safest speed for road conditions.
- Texas observes prima facie speed limits as covered under Texas Transportation Code Section 545.352. Under this law, if a driver exceeds a speed limit, they aren’t necessarily guilty if they can prove that it was safe to go the speed they were traveling.
- Police officers in Texas also have more discretion when it comes to speeding traffic violations. Going a safe speed over the limit is not positively illegal.
If exceeding the speed limit while passing another vehicle is safe, you might not face penalties for doing so. Police officers are especially likely to allow exceeding the speed limit if you’re passing on a two-lane highway where speeds are 55 miles per hour or faster.
If you have to cross the center line on a two-way highway to pass a slower vehicle, you might need to exceed the speed limit. It’s usually best to pass as quickly as you can, safely, to avoid colliding with oncoming traffic and not significantly slow down the traffic flow.
If another driver caused your accident that involved speeding while passing, talk to a car accident lawyer about the laws in your state. We can connect you with the best lawyer for your needs, starting with a FREE consultation. Call (214) 305-8277 or contact us online to get started.
When Exceeding the Speed Limit Isn’t Worth It
When a car in front of you is going below the posted speed limit and everyone else is speeding excessively, it can be tempting to follow the other drivers’ lead. However, merely passing a vehicle is not always a good excuse to go over the speed limit.
If there are several lanes of traffic and there’s no immediate need to pass, you should stay within the posted speed limit or speed that is safest for current conditions. Even if you live in Texas or another state with prima facie speed limits, you can get pulled over for speeding to pass another car when it’s not necessary.
Penalties for Exceeding Speed Limits
If you get pulled over for a speeding violation, the officer might give you a ticket. The value of a speeding ticket varies depending on the city and state. In Texas, under the Texas Driver Responsibility Program, you can face additional fees for multiple traffic tickets or serious violations.
A speeding ticket will also affect your auto insurance rates. The more points you accumulate on your driving record, the higher your premium will be. However, you might have the chance to take a defensive driving course and get the speeding violation removed from your record.
Three Tips for Passing Safely on a Two-Lane Road
If you’re going to pass a slower-moving car in front of you, it’s essential to do so safely, no matter what the rules are in your state. Here are some guidelines for passing other vehicles safely.
1. Make Sure Passing Is Legal
Check that you can legally pass the slower-moving car before deciding to pass. Look for any road signs or poor road conditions that advise against passing. If you’re traveling on a highway, it’s probably okay to pass in most situations.
Note that you shouldn’t pass if:
- There are any “DO NOT PASS” signs
- There is a solid white or yellow line between lanes
- You’re in a school zone or coming upon a loading or unloading school bus
2. Make Sure Passing Is Safe
Even if you can legally pass, check that the action is safe. It’s best to wait to pass if:
- There is a long line of cars in front of you (especially on a two-way highway)
- You won’t have enough room to accelerate
- Weather conditions like snow, rain, or ice can make speeding up dangerous
- The car ahead of you is preparing to leave the road
- You have limited visibility on the road ahead
Even seemingly innocent weather conditions like sun or fog can make it hard to see around you and pass safely.
3. Pass Safely
If you’ve determined that passing is safe in the current conditions, you’re ready to perform the pass. Observe all of your surroundings, check to ensure there is no oncoming traffic, and use your mirrors to make sure you have a clear path.
Turn on your turn signal to let the car in front of you know you’re preparing to pass. As you move into the passing lane, accelerate safely until you’ve passed the vehicle. Once you’ve passed with enough room, activate your turn signal and move back into your lane.
Be sure to return to the posted speed limit (or the safest speed for current road conditions) after passing.
Be Kind When Others Pass You
Proper passing etiquette is vital to keep everyone on the roads safe. If another driver passes or prepares to pass you, be sure to maintain your current speed (or even slow down slightly) rather than speeding up.
Ensure the passing driver has plenty of room to get past you. Also, stay in the far right lane if you are traveling slower than other vehicles.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer at No Cost Today
If another driver caused your accident that involved speeding to pass, a car accident lawyer can help you seek compensation for your damages. Give our Dallas car accident law firm a call to learn more and get matched with the best lawyer.
We do not charge a fee unless we win your case, so there is no risk. To get started with your FREE consultation, call (214) 305-8277 or contact us online today.