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Undertaking - is it allowed or not?

I never do it as my driving instructor shouted at me for doing it, but I seem to be alone.

So, I drive on a variety of roads and always try and stick to the left lane on multiple carriage roads, aside from when I overtake or need the right lane for turning.  There are a couple of busy hills I drive on where if you aren't in the right hand lane by a point you will then struggle to get in.

On such hills I tend to stay in the right lane the whole (300m) climb, and do the speed limit whilever there isn't a queue, but get undertaken by people (who are therefore doing more than the speed limit).  Speeding aside, is that an offence or not?  I can see it is surely fine if there is a queue in the right lane so you are undertaking stationary traffic, but where the traffic is moving I thought you couldn't undertake (I got a right earful off my driving instructor once for doing it...).  Highway code doesn't seem to mention.  I sometimes end up driving up hills and having to drop to 20 because someone in the right lane is doing 20, which is annoying.

If it is an offence, I wonder where the line is (if Mr 20mph brakes and I whiz past, have I done wrong?).

These are the thoughts that occupy my mind while I sit in traffic...

And to pre-empt people who feel I should be in the left lane until I have to move over, I've ended up stuck in the left lane too often for that to not cause me anxiety, plus I tend to feel if I'm doing the speed limit no-one should be overtaking me (or undertaking) anyway, so...

Thoughts?

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By DJKL
20th Feb 2019 16:50

Check with Her Majesty's lot (though obviously Phil can no longer be a member)

https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/legal/undertaking/

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to DJKL
20th Feb 2019 16:59

I feel victimised by the comments on that link :|

I would like to stress that I genuinely do stay to the left unless I am within 10-20 seconds of needing to be in the right, such as my aforementioned hills. I suppose I see the hills as being a left turn lane and a right/straight on lane and they remain as such for a distance down the hill, and I prefer to get in lane and potentially inconvenience a speeder than risk getting stuck in the wrong lane. The feeder lane to the hill is usually busy too, so you need to get in lane to get in lane... :|

On motorways I live in the left hand lane, unless I need to get around someone and will spit feathers at second lane hoggers doing below the speed limit.

I'll also stay in the second lane if I expect to have to move back into it in my 10-20 second window. (I am going to time how long I actually spend climbing my hill now and will be upset if it is 21 seconds...).

Methinks the duck doth protest too much....

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By DJKL
to Constantly Confused
20th Feb 2019 17:43

You should try Edinburgh with bus lanes.

Those cars turning left go to the inside lane but as the slip part of the road to the left is often only about two cars long you either sit in the main queue waiting until the road surface markings allow you into the inside lane or you cross the dreaded bus lane to get there and risk a ticket.

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to DJKL
20th Feb 2019 17:57

I know what you mean.

A few years ago, I drove from the west side of the city to pick a player up at Waverley Station. Must've gone five or six miles out of my way around the one ways and avoiding the buses only bits of Prince's Street.

It'd've been easier to walk.

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to DJKL
20th Feb 2019 18:02

Pretty confident that's not just Edinburgh.

In fact I know it's not, as we have the same here. Most people here are pretty obedient. But you still find yourself spending more time looking in your mirrors than at the road ahead.

I reckon if we all learned to be a lot calmer - especially with our driving - we'd all have better karma - especially on the roads. [Realising that was highly unlikely to be entirely original, I just popped "calmer karma" into the search engine of my choice (not Google, I hate Google) and was dismayed to find myself reading about Calmer Karma's Willy Wonka and similar.]

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to Constantly Confused
21st Feb 2019 01:43

Undertaking in the left when the middle/right hand lanes are slowing down is acceptable unless it is done deliberately to gain an advantage.

Speeding is not acceptable under any circumstance. It is an offence to break the speed limit in order to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle as it is an offence to break the limit when overtaking a slow-moving "Sunday Driver".

AND WATCH OUT! THE POLICE HAVE DEVELOPED A NICE SHINY NEW CAMERA DESIGNED TO CATCH MOTORWAY MIDDLE LANE HOGGING AND MOTORWAY UNDERTAKERS WHO WEAVE IN AND OUT IN ORDER TO GAIN AN ADVANTAGE! (You know the sort I mean).

About time too!!

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20th Feb 2019 17:13

Aaaahhh! THAT kind of undertaking!

Turned out to be quite an educational thread already, thanks CC and DJKL.

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20th Feb 2019 17:36

This isn't the USA.

Of course undertaking isn't allowed, other than in specified circumstances.

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to lionofludesch
20th Feb 2019 18:04

lionofludesch wrote:

Of course undertaking isn't allowed, other than in specified circumstances.

Neither's not returning to "lane 1" after you have completed an overtake. On 4 lane stretches, you get numpties tootling along in lane 3 overtaking nothing so I then have to go from lane 1 to lane 4 and back to overtake them. Too many inconsiderate and clueless drivers about, sadly. And not enough traffic police.

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to Accountant A
20th Feb 2019 22:16

Ah right ! You advocate cutting back into a lane ahead of some tosspot speeding up on the lane inside you !

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By frankfx
20th Feb 2019 18:01

I avoid undertaking.
My wife gives me the ear ache when she spots my mirror, signal manoeuvre intentions.

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20th Feb 2019 18:12

it is an offence to undertake but its equally illegal to speed or drive in an inappropriate lane.

If you are being regularly undertaken you are probably in the wrong lane, although it will often happen in and around junctions where essentially people are in their own lanes.

I don't think the fact you are "doing the speed limit" ought to be relevant in your decision making. If you do sit in or around the speed limit in an inappropriate lane, there will be a large block of people say behind you wanting to do their 10% over (or more) , some of whom will undertake if its clear, which makes is dangerous for everyone quite frankly.

What you are doing is in effect creating a rolling road block, behind which will build a considerable amount of traffic, some of whom will be the sort of jerks who undertake. Naturally when you do move in, then you may have dozens of vehicles now going past (ie jerks like me who wont undertake, but will do 75-80 when its clear and safe to do so) , so you may get the impression of the road being busier than it really is as its all bunched around you and perhaps a few others doing similar speeds as you tend to bunch together with people doing the same speed.

Personally I find driving at or around 70 really hard work. In my small engine town car I sit with the lorries at 56-60 and rarely pull out. In my normal car which I would use for motorway driving, I do 75-80 with the majority of the traffic and dont need to change lanes too often. The types that are doing 90+ tend to pop round you quite quickly, so I have barely pulled in, and when they are about 50% past, I will tend to indicate to pull out again.

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By DJKL
to ireallyshouldknowthisbut
20th Feb 2019 18:31

The annoying thing is that particular speeds seem to make little difference on long journeys, for years I have been zooming around Europe, driven Rotterdam to the middle of Sweden etc, no matter what I do, the speeds I achieve in Germany on the unrestricted roads, I still always end up with an average speed for the overall journey of 56 mph.

The only way to ever do better is drive overnight (what we used to do re Edinburgh to Harwich when the kids were small, leave at circa 9.30/10.00 pm, drive to Washington, grab a cigarette (back then I smoked), kids into back and then zoom down and if other half fell asleep I could go even faster, doing this I could get the average to nearer 70 but daytime driving it seems impossible to get over 60 mph average.

(At least better than Norway where my average must have been nearer 42 mph)

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20th Feb 2019 21:39

I find being undertaken stressful. I find the prospect of it stressful.

To avoid it I might straddle two lanes or intermittently set off my left indicator.

Undertakers make assumptions that your driving is predictable. Be unpredictable.

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20th Feb 2019 20:18

Undertaking is not 'illegal' it is permissible where in a moving queue of traffic the vehicles in the 'queue' lane to your right are moving slower than you are.

The law does not specify how many vehicles make up a 'queue'.

For me, one is enough - blast past on the inside, I say.

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By spilly
20th Feb 2019 23:14

But will the undertakers endanger themselves or others to the extent that undertakers may be required?

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By DJKL
21st Feb 2019 00:11

It is surprising the speed you can get out of a hearse.

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21st Feb 2019 09:59

If we all drove with due care and attention, and were aware of what was going on around us whilst driving, then there would be no need for these daft rules and undertaking would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do. As it is, I see no problem with doing it if you take care whilst doing so (I’m sure the police would have different thoughts but there you go).

I can think of an even more fun activity than undertaking. Say you are coming to a roundabout and want to take the first exit, but the left hand lane has a substantial queue. Right hand lane is pretty much empty, so the sensible curse of action is to take the right hand lane and go around the roundabout until you come back to the first exit you intended to take. As above, if done with care, it makes for much more efficient use of the road. It can lead to some pretty animated drivers though if they notice what you’ve done.

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to Lone_Wolf
21st Feb 2019 10:36

Lone_Wolf wrote:

If we all drove with due care and attention, and were aware of what was going on around us whilst driving, then there would be no need for these daft rules and undertaking would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do. As it is, I see no problem with doing it if you take care whilst doing so (I’m sure the police would have different thoughts but there you go).

We all fly around in little tin cans at speeds of up to (ahem) 70 mph. The reason there aren't more accidents is that we can make a reasonable prediction of what the blokes in the other tin cans are going to do.

That's the genius of the Highway Code.

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to Lone_Wolf
21st Feb 2019 10:40

Lone_Wolf wrote:

I can think of an even more fun activity than undertaking. Say you are coming to a roundabout and want to take the first exit, but the left hand lane has a substantial queue. Right hand lane is pretty much empty, so the sensible curse of action is to take the right hand lane and go around the roundabout until you come back to the first exit you intended to take. As above, if done with care, it makes for much more efficient use of the road. It can lead to some pretty animated drivers though if they notice what you’ve done.

This happens quite a lot at the bottom of Jubilee Way in Ponte Carlo.

Unfortunately, the roundabout isn't a proper roundabout. It's a white dot painted on the road.

Leads to a lot of accidents as drivers don't expect impatient halfwits to go round the roundabout 1½ times.

This leads in turn to even more substantial queues in both left and right hand lanes.

Particularly not recommended for artics.

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21st Feb 2019 11:24

not impatient or half witted but a sensible maximisation of time and (road) space - like using both lanes to go straight on at traffic lights where the road arrows allow it but everyone else forms an orderly queue only in the left hand lane...
Works in my Ferrari....

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By itp3e
22nd Feb 2019 12:45

Is undertaking allowed ?

Are mourners tax deductible ??

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