Understanding Dangerous Overtaking

Pretty much every cyclist has “near-miss” stories about when a car overtook them too close and too fast.

Sometimes this happens when drivers act rashly and misjudge the situation, but sometimes it’s also because the driver is acting out of ignorance or malice.

The act of Dangerous Overtaking is a specific offence set out in Irish law.  It is a penalty point offence which incurs 2 points and a fine of €80.

The law says that:

  • A driver shall not overtake, or attempt to overtake, if to do so would endanger, or cause inconvenience to, any other person.
  • A driver shall not overtake, or attempt to overtake, unless the roadway ahead of the driver (a) is free from approaching traffic, pedestrians or any obstruction, and (b) is sufficiently long and wide to permit the overtaking to be completed without danger or inconvenience to other traffic or pedestrians.

Therefore, if the road is not wide enough to give the cyclist plenty of room when overtaking, then a driver should not attempt it.

Unfortunately, it seems to be accepted behaviour for motorists to “squeeze by” cyclists, rather than wait a few seconds until there is a safe passing opportunity – and by doing so they are placing their personal convenience way above the cyclist’s personal safety.

Another problem is that many Garda either aren’t aware (or simply don’t care) about the offence of Dangerous Overtaking – even when the dangerous driving has been witnessed or pointed out to them. And so the advice to any cyclist that encounters dangerous overtaking is to engage with the Guards and ask them to charge the driver with this specific offence.

Richard Bloomfield

Richard is the founder of Dublin Bike Blog. He commutes to work every day by bike, come rain or shine, on his Dutch city bike. You can read more from Richard on his blog richardbloomfield.ie.

2 thoughts on “Understanding Dangerous Overtaking

  • 7 March, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    I cycle the Strawberry Beds every morning – there are parts of it that are narrow and motorists squeezing by are a huge problem. There’s nearly been more than one accident – they don’t seem to realise that the solid line means no overtaking and they’ll also take risks on blind bends.

    I find cycling defensively prevent dangerous overtaking scenarios that can injure me and others. So, I will cycle just left of the middle of the lane for the narrow places.

    • 7 March, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      I think that’s the right way to go Gavan. Adopt the primary position in the middle of the lane, to stop motorists being able to act wrecklessly.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Because of a 2011 EU directive designed to protect your online privacy, I am required by law to check you are OK with the use of cookies on this site. more information

This site, along with almost every other web site on the internet, uses cookies (small text files) to store information about you - such as your user preferences, or whether you're logged in to the site. Any ads shown on the site will also use cookies to track your behaviour. If you're not happy about cookies, then your best bet is to disable them in your browser. If you click "Accept" below then you are consenting for cookies to be used.