Stage 4: Passing on a Divided Highway

Location: Divided Highways
Length of Lesson: 30-45 minutes

You should definitely practice passing on a divided highway before you even think about attempting <passing on a two-lane road>. In fact, passing on a two lane road is so dangerous, we don’t really recommend doing it unless there’s a serious reason to do so (beyond the person in front of you not driving as fast as you’d like). Anyway, that’s a different subject. Back to the divided highway.

Pass quickly, but don’t drive like a lunatic

When overtaking another car, you have to be careful about driving in their blindspot. Although you’re using the <BGE mirror settings>, most other drivers aren’t. The BGE setting was only invented in the 1990′s, so many older drivers have never heard of this superior mirror technique. When passing another car on the highway, you should drive approximately 10 mph faster than that car. If this would cause you to drive more than 5 mph over the speed limit, don’t make the pass. When you finish the pass, return to your previous speed.

Perform a visual scan before activating your turn signal

Before your teen turns on their signal, they should perform a complete visual scan of the area around their car. Not only should they check the areas immediately surrounding their car, they should also look at the lane they’re going to move into as well as one lane over from that lane.

The reason for this is to ensure that another car isn’t about to move into the same lane. If this is the case, the right of way goes to the car in the left-most lane. Let me repeat that: If two cars are attempting to move into the same lane on the highway, the car to the left has the right of way. In most other driving scenarios (such as a four-way stop or a t-intersection), the car to the right has the right way. Not so on the highway.

Once you can see their headlights, it’s safe to move back into the original lane

When passing, instruct your teen not to move back over into their original lane until they can see the headlights of the car they’ve passed in their rearview mirror. This indicates that they have adequate room to pull in front of the car.

Be careful of cars speeding up as you attempt to pass them

Remember, there are a lot of jerks out on the road. There are many people who feel slighted when you pass them on the highway. They seem to take it as a personal affront to their driving skills and try to prevent you from making the pass by speeding up.

If your teen encounters this, instruct them to let off the gas and pull back safely behind the car and increase their following distance. There’s absolutely no point in trying to “gun it” past this car. It’s also not safe to stay near this driver, so we highly advise that you back off and wait for this car to exit the highway.

Passing on the right

Normally, faster cars should be in the leftmost lanes of the highway and slower cars, the rightmost. However, there are times when a slowpoke driver is occupying a middle or left lane on the highway. It may be necessary to pass this car on the right. The same rules and procedures apply for passing on the right as on the left.

You should be aware, however, that most cars aren’t accustomed to being passed on their right. So, you need to be on the lookout for this car to suddenly move one lane over to the right. Since they’re not used to being passed, they may not be as diligent about checking their right-side blind spot and cause a collision as you attempt to pass them.

Therefore, we discourage passing on the right unless you have no other alternative. This does not mean that you should tailgate a slowpoke driver in order to get them to move over. Simply maintain your following distance and if possible, move over two lanes to the right. If you must pass on the right, try to keep a one lane buffer between you and the car you’re passing.

Being passed

When another cars begins to pass you, maintain your current speed. Do not slow speed up to prevent them from passing. This is stubborn and dangerous. Being passed does not mean that you’re a bad driver.

Always be on the lookout for cars passing you whenever you attempt to change lanes. This is why you should constantly be scanning the road so that you know where every car around you is located. You also need to gauge their speed and intentions. Is the car behind you and to the right speeding up? If so, they might be attempting a pass. Keep an eye out on them.


Practice passing several times during each highway lesson. Help your teen gauge the appropriate speed while passing another car. Also, help them determine when it is safe to move back into their original lane.

Continue on to Stereotyping Other Drivers

All information and advice contained within this website is to be taken at your own risk. Nothing contained within this website should be misconstrued as professional driving instruction.