Overtaking is an important, worrying and dangerous manoeuvre which is hard to investigate and hard to teach. Files for 973 overtaking accidents were obtained from the Nottinghamshire police covering the years 1989-1993, 410 of which were examined in depth. Each case was summarised on a database including the main objective features and a summary narrative; a sketch plan; and a list of 'explanatory factors'. Ten classes of overtaking accident were distinguished, each with a different age-profile of drivers, the commonest involving collision with a right-turner further ahead. Two reliability studies showed the case interpretations to be very similar for independent researchers. Two induced exposure measures were obtained: (a) comparing driver involvement in one type of overtaking accident with the other types, and (b) comparing the characteristics of the driver at fault, with those of the driver not (or less) at fault. Detailed causal mechanisms were examined and were found to vary between drivers by age, experience and gender. A list of 28 behavioural countermeasures was drawn up and evaluated against each case. Two measures in combination (not overtaking a vehicle travelling at or near the speed limit, and not overtaking in the vicinity of a junction) would have prevented 54% of the accidents in the sample. (A)

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