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Reader's bike-law dilemma: Passing stationary cars

2015-09-03 08:25

SHARE YOUR TRAFFIC EXPERIENCES: Share your traffic officer experiences on Twitter or Facebook Image: Shutterstock

Cape Town - Earlier in August 2015, Wheels24 published an article by ER24 which revealed grim statistics regarding motorbike crashes in South Africa.

We asked riders to send in their thoughts on crashes and road laws in South Africa.


Wheels24 reader Chris sent us the following email: "I have a query regarding the validity of motorcycles being able to pass vehicles on the right in a single lane road. Let me try explain a bit more.

"I was pulled over by a traffic officer the other day because I merged into the left lane (of stationary vehicles) on approach to an off-ramp. I did not cross any solid lines, therefore I'm not committing a traffic violation (I believe). Also I did not obstruct any traffic of cut someone off.

"The Traffic officer insisted that I had to wait in the queue with all the other vehicles. Would really like your input w.r.t. this issue."


Wheels24 contacted lawyer Alta Swanepoel, of Alta Swanepoel & Associates, who responded: "That is totally correct Chris. A motorcycle is a motor vehicle and the normal rules for passing another vehicle applies.

"You must move to the opposite lane to pass on a divided road and move into another lane when passing vehicles in the same direction. You may also not pass a vehicle on the left side."

Have you been the victim of a bike crash or witnessed one on our roads? Send us your thoughts and we'll publish them. Get in touch with us via email.

ER24 has the following tips for road users:

  • Do not speed. Slow down or alter your speed according to the environment you are in.
  • Keep a safe following distance.
  • Do not be impatient.
  • Refrain from skipping stop signs and red traffic lights. Be cautious when changing lanes.
  • Do not drive or ride while under the influence of liquor or drugs.
  • Do not allow yourself to become distracted.
  • Be calm while on the road. Avoid road rage.  
  • Indicators are there for a reason. Use them.
  • Ensure your vehicle is roadworthy and conduct regular safety inspections.
  • Bikers and cyclists must wear approved protective gear. Also wear reflective or highly visible clothing.
  • Bikers are urged to have some sort of identification or family contact details with them in case of an emergency.

Arrive Alive has an excellent guide for riders in SA

Swanepoel also sent through the following regarding the SA road traffic act: Passing of a vehicle

Reg 298. (1) Subject to the provisions of subregulation (2) and
(4) and regulation 296, the driver of a vehicle intending to pass any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction on a public road shall pass to the right thereof at a safe distance  and shall not again drive on the left side of the roadway until safely clear of the vehicle so passed:
 Provided that, in the circumstances as aforesaid, passing on the left of such vehicle shall be permissible if the person driving the passing vehicle can do so with safety to himself or herself and other traffic or property which is or may be on such road and—
(a)    the vehicle being passed is turning to its right or the driver
thereof has signalled his or her intention of turning to his or her right;
(b)    such road is a public road in an urban area and—
(i)    is restricted to vehicles moving in one direction; and
(ii)    the roadway is of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving
(c)    such road is a public road in an urban area and the roadway is of
sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles moving in each direction;
(d)    the roadway of such road is restricted to vehicles moving in one
direction and is divided into traffic lanes by appropriate road traffic signs; or
(e)    he or she is driving in compliance with the directions of a traffic
officer or is driving in traffic which is under the general direction of such officer, and in accordance with such direction:
Provided further that in no event shall any passing referred to in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d) be done by driving on the shoulders of the roadway or on the verge of the public road concerned.
(2)    The driver of a vehicle shall not pass other traffic proceeding in
the same direction on a public road when approaching—
(a)    the summit of a rise;
(b)    a curve; or
(c)    any other place,
where his or her view is so restricted that any such passing could create a hazard in relation to other traffic which might approach from the opposite direction, unless—
(i)    he or she can do so without encroaching on the right hand side of
the roadway; or
(ii)    the roadway of such road is restricted to vehicles moving in one
(3)    The driver of a vehicle on a public road shall, except in the
circumstances referred to in the first proviso to subregulation (1), upon becoming aware of other traffic proceeding in the same direction and wishing to pass his or her vehicle, cause his or her vehicle to travel as near to the left edge of the roadway as is possible, without endangering himself or herself or other traffic or property on the roadway, and shall not accelerate the speed of his or her vehicle until the other vehicle has passed.
(4)    When about to pass oncoming traffic, the driver of a vehicle on a
public road shall ensure that the vehicle driven by him or her does not encroach on the roadway to his or her right in such manner as may obstruct or endanger such oncoming traffic.
(5)    The driver of a vehicle intending to pass a stationary bus on a
public road shall do so with due care for the safety of persons who are approaching or leaving or may approach or leave such bus.

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