Dodge County Sheriff Law Of The Month Passing Slower Vehicles

Every year law enforcement responds to numerous vehicle crashes across our county.  Some of the most severe and often deadly crashes occur when vehicles meet head on while trying to pass slower vehicles or farm implements.  Whether the cause is a judgment error on the part of the passing driver or pure reckless behavior, the result is the same.

Wisconsin State Statute 346.09(1) covers the overtaking on the left or driving on the left side of the road.  Regarding passing another vehicle on a two way highway it says in part, “…the operator of a vehicle shall not drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be done in safety.” 

In other words, if the actions of the passing driver in any way impact other drivers such as the one being passed or oncoming traffic, causing them to take any defensive action such as slowing down, then that is a violation.  This includes when passing farm implements or bicycles.  If the action cannot be done without impacting other traffic, then it is a violation of this law.

While this may be frustrating at times when there is significant traffic and it may mean waiting for a period of time, the possible consequences of not doing so are potentially much worse.  Captain Scott Mittelstadt asks that all those travelling our roads and highways use appropriate patience and caution when overtaking other vehicles.  A few seconds or minutes of delay is a small price compared to the alternative.