What is meeting, passing and adequate clearance?
Although the title of this tutorial might sound complicated, it involves a part
of driving that you will have to use probably every time you get behind the wheel.
Imagine driving down a typical urban road which has parked cars on both sides, a car is approaching you in the opposite direction and both of you can’t
pass each other at the same time due to the road not being wide enough. You’ll have
to pull in to an available space on the left to let them pass, or they must do that
same for you, then you’ll have to continue making sure you don’t get too close to
parked cars. This tutorial will go over the correct method of meeting vehicles whilst
driving and adequate clearance when passing parked vehicles.
How to know if a meeting situation is coming up
You will have to use some quick judgement to decide whether a meeting situation
is coming up, planning ahead is vital because you don’t want to end up in a situation
where you and an oncoming driver has tried to squeeze through the same space and
you both result in being stuck. When you are driving, have a look ahead and think
about any narrowing spaces which might be too tight for two cars to pass at the
same time, then you need to decide if you will hold back or whether it is more convenient
for the other vehicle to hold back. A general rule here is, if the space looks too
tight then you should hold back and continue after the oncoming vehicle has passed.
You should think about where the road begins to narrow, maybe there is a situation
approaching where a car is parked on either side of the road and they are opposite
each other therefore causing a narrowing of the road. If you are closer to the narrowing
than the oncoming vehicle, you should be able to pass through with the oncoming
vehicle holding back. Similarly if the other vehicle is closer to the narrowing
of the road, you should hold back and let the oncoming vehicle pass and then carry
on once it passes. The following video gives a demonstration of this:
What to do after the oncoming vehicle has passed
You’ll notice from the above video that our vehicle didn’t come to a stop, instead
it kept rolling and therefore avoiding the need to stop by planning ahead. This
will help keep traffic flowing and also reduce your carbon footprint because moving
your car off from a stationary position requires more power from the engine and
burns more fuel. You should always keep at least a 2 car length distance from yourself
and any parked car you are waiting behind (if this is possible), and make sure that
you check your centre and right mirrors before continuing because a following road user might try to overtake you. When you have checked the mirrors and continue, make
sure you turn enough to avoid clipping the parked car. This is what
adequate clearance means, a lot of parked vehicles are damaged, (and have their mirrors ripped off!) because passing vehicles
misjudge how close they are to the parked car, leaving a 2 car lengths distance
will help avoid any contact. Try to also leave a car doors width between you and
the parked car in case somebody in the parked vehicle opens their door.
Who should wait in a passing place?
This all depends on the situation and each situation should be treated with the surrounding
factors in mind. There are a few things to think about if you are approaching a
meeting situation, the first is whether both cars can pass at the same time or not,
make sure you know whats behind you and be prepared for peoples actions in the parked cars on
the road (somebody might open the door of the parked car as you pass it).
As mentioned a bit earlier, you really need to use your own judgement when meeting/passing
oncoming traffic. Not only should you judge the width of the road, you should also
judge how fast the oncoming car is travelling as well as their road position and
general driving behaviour, they may not hold back like you want them too and if
you think they might not then you should just wait. Is the oncoming vehicle larger
than normal? If so then they might not fit into the gap you are leaving them so
you should be courteous and hold back.
Road signs that warn you of meeting situations approaching
On some occasions there will be forced passing places in the road, this could be
for various reasons such as road works or to slow traffic down in that particular
road. You will normally see a road sign which will tell you in good time of an approaching
meeting situation, take a look at the following signs and their meanings so you
are prepared the next time you see them:
Figure 1: Various traffic signs that warn you of a narrowing of the road or forced
The road you are driving on might have a placed obstruction which will give you
priority over oncoming traffic or make you give way to oncoming vehicles, an example
of this is shown in figure 2 below:
Figure 2: Obstruction in road with forced priority
Passing a larger vehicle
Sometimes you might be forced to pass a larger vehicle and will have to use the
oncoming traffics lane to do so, there are a few things you need to remember if
you are going to pass a larger vehicle. Always leave a bigger gap when directly
following a larger vehicle, due to their sheer size you want to have a wider view
of what is in front of you if they stop and whether or not you can pass them, and
therefore being further back will widen your view. This is especially useful when
being behind a bus, they will stop quite frequently and you’ll need to keep an eye
out for passengers walking out from behind/in front of a bus, make sure you check
well ahead before you decide to pass a bus because any oncoming vehicles shouldn’t
be forced to slow down for you. Again, make sure you check your mirrors and indicate
right before you pass a stopped bus if anyone can benefit from your indication.
Check out the following video showing how to correctly pass a bus that has stopped:
Typical meeting/passing situations
There are a variety of typical everyday meeting/passing situations which you may come across, the more situations you come across will improve how you will deal with the next meeting/passing situation that arises. Have a look at the video below which shows a narrow residential road where meeting situations will almost certainly arise. Take special notice of how we have planned ahead to anticipate an oncoming vehicle.
FINELINES guide to dealing with meeting, passing and adequate clearance
Our end of tutorial guide will brush up everything we’ve gone over in this section,
don’t depend on this part alone however, have a read through the whole section and
watch the videos if you haven’t already. The only way to master this aspect of everyday
driving is to practise as many meeting/passing scenarios as possible because a lot
of your own judgement is needed in these situations. We at Fineline Driving Academy
always make sure our learners get extensive practise with passing/meeting situations
to make sure they are well prepared for their driving future. Here are the main
points that can be learned from this particular tutorial:
1) Plan well ahead to decide whether the road you are on narrows and realise if
a meeting situation is approaching.
2) Look out for road signs that tell you if the road narrows, or if priority is
given to yourself or oncoming vehicles.
3) If you are approaching the narrowing point of the road before the approaching
vehicle you should probably pass with the other vehicle holding back, if they reach
it first then you should hold back.
4) Try to leave at least a 2 car length gap between yourself and any parked vehicle
you wait behind.
5) Make sure you check your centre and right mirrors before continuing to make sure
nobody behind you is overtaking.
6) Steer quite sharply to clear the parked vehicle and leave a car doors width between
your car and the parked vehicle (if possible).
7) Keep further back behind a larger vehicle to widen your view, if you pass a pulled
over bus then look out for passengers walking out from behind/in front of the bus.
8) Only indicate as you pass a parked vehicle if someone will benefit, make sure
to cancel the indicator if you do indicate to prevent misleading other road users.
9) Judge each situation individually depending on what is going on at the time,
take every surrounding factor into account because there are many different types
of meeting/passing situations you can come across every day.