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We must drive on the right side of the highway as per the law. We often pass other cars on the left when we are permitted to do so. 

You can pass other vehicles under specific conditions and when it is essential and safe. 

Use vigilance only when required while passing other cars or changing lanes to avoid dangers. You must not exceed the posted speed limit to pass another vehicle.

Learn how to pass another vehicle in the following guide.

Passing a Vehicle on the Left

how to pass another vehicle


Normally, passing other cars is done in the left lane. The following situations prohibit passing on the left: 

Make sure there isn’t a car closely following you on the left lane before swiftly scanning your left shoulder via the back side glass. 

Don’t depend entirely on your mirrors when getting ready to change lanes. You will still have blind spots on either side of your vehicle, even when you’ve set the mirrors properly. 

You may not see a vehicle in your mirrors if it’s in the blind area. Always take a glance behind you before making a lane shift or passing.

Move entirely into the left lane once you pass. Ensure you can spot the front bumper of the car you passed in your internal rear-view mirror before signaling and moving back into the right lane. 

Make sure there are at least a few feet of pavement between your car and the one you passed by, swiftly looking over your right shoulder. Afterward, re-enter the right lane.

Passing a Vehicle on the Right

Normal passing lanes are on the left, yet there are rare circumstances where passing is permitted on the right. 

Only under the following circumstances, and only if you can do so safely, may you overtake another vehicle on the right. 

Except when specifically permitted by a sign or when a traffic officer indicates so, it is illegal to drive across the edge line. Right passing is permitted:

When preparing to pass to the right at a junction, pay close attention to the oncoming traffic. Check to see whether an approaching car isn’t going to turn left in your path, and keep an eye out for pedestrians, bicyclists, inline skaters, and moped riders on the right side of the road.

On multi-lane routes like expressways, ensure you double-check your mirrors, utilize the proper lane change signals, and check your right shoulder for cars before passing on the right. 

After passing, immediately signal and glance behind your left shoulder before moving back into the left lane.

Being Passed

how to overtake another vehicle


Reduce your speed and stay in the middle of your lane if a car passes you from the left. 

Continue traveling at your usual speed once the car has safely overtaken you and is in front of you.

Be sure to move into the right-hand lane and let cars pass you from the left if you see many of them passing you on the right.

Passing School Buses

Traffic approaching from either route, even right in front of schools and in school parking areas, should stop before reaching a stopped school bus when it flashes its red light. 

The stopping distance from the bus should be at least 6 meters. The “SCHOOL BUS” sign, the distinctive yellow-orange hue, and the red lights on top all help to identify it.

A school bus driver often flashes yellow caution lights before stopping to pick up or drop off passengers. When you spot them, slow down and get ready to stop.

After you stop for any school bus, you cannot resume driving until the flashing red lights cease and the traffic police or bus driver gives you the all-clear. 

On all state-owned roads in New York, this law is in effect. You must stop even if a school bus is on the other side of a divided roadway.

After stopping for a school bus, check both sides of the road for kids. Proceed cautiously until you’ve gone past them until you have passed them.

Most school bus-related fatalities and injuries occur when kids cross the road after getting off the bus, not in accidents with other school buses.

Note that vehicles used to carry disabled individuals may be provided with school bus equipment, and you must make the same stop for them as you would for regular school buses.


Penalties for Passing Stopped School Buses

The penalty for passing a stopped school bus goes from $250 for the first offense to $1,000 for three offenses in three years. 

Your driver’s license will be suspended for at least six months if you are found guilty of three of these offenses in three years.

The legislation was approved in 2019, allowing school municipalities and districts to utilize stop-arm cameras in school buses to fine drivers who move past a school bus when it is stopped to pick up or drop off passengers and its red lights are flashing.

Final Word

If you want to pass another vehicle, you must communicate your intention to change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.

You can do this using turn signal lighting or hand and arm signals. And always remember not to pass a vehicle that has stopped at a crosswalk to let a pedestrian cross.

You should also not pass a stopped school bus that drops off students.

Our prelicensing course prepares you to drive safely at all times.