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That driver won't let you pass because he doesn't like you

Vehiles drive along the Trans Canada Highway through Banff National Park with Mt. Cascade in the background in this 2008 file photo.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

I recently drove a long stretch on a single-lane highway. I was in a hurry so I was going about 15-20 km/h above the limit. Whenever I tried to pass another car by signalling and moving into the oncoming lane, they would speed up so I couldn't get past them without going 140 km/h or so. It got pretty scary a couple of times and oncoming cars had to slow down. Is there a law against a car speeding up while I'm trying to pass it? – Ben, North Bay, ON

Since you won't hear the driver screaming "You shall not pass!" in his best Gandalf voice as you try to overtake him, flooring it sends a clear message, says Young Drivers of Canada.

"If they're trying to speed up, they're trying to send you a message that they don't like you," says Angelo DiCicco, YD general manager. "And the reason they don't like you is because you've been following too close."

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It's a potentially deadly message: 18 per cent of accident fatalities are the result of head-on collisions, DiCicco says.

If you're passing on a single lane road

First, don't get so close. You should be using your signal light – not your car – to signal that you'll be wanting to pass. Use it early, so the driver knows your intentions.

"Getting close to them is not a wise way to tell them you want to pass, you'll start to freak them out," DiCicco says.

When you're ready to pass, you should be dropping back a couple of seconds behind the car you're following. You'll need safe space to accelerate quickly.

"Then, you do the major accelerating in your lane," he says. "When you finally pull out you make sure you can see a good kilometre ahead and that it's not an illegal or dumb passing situation."

Once you pass the vehicle, wait until you see both headlights in your rearview mirror and signal before pulling back in front of them.

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"So they know what the hell you're doing," he says.

Section 148 (8) of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) says you can't pass "unless there is no approaching traffic in front of or to the left of the vehicle being passed and the car attempting to pass is safely free from overtaking traffic to the left," says the Ministry of Transportation in an email.

In other words, it has to be clear to pass. Break this law and it's a fine of up to $500 and three demerits.

What if the car speeds up and doesn't let you pass? Retreat and get back behind him, DiCicco says.

If you're being passed

When a car is trying to pass you, you're supposed to pull to the right of your lane and let it pass, says section 148 (2) of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA).

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If you're caught blocking another car from passing, you could be facing up to a $500 fine and two demerits.

You could also be charged with speeding, as neither you or the car passing you is supposed to be breaking the speed limit, says Ontario's Ministry of Transportation in an email.

Others potential charges include careless driving (up to a $2,000 fine, six demerits and possible jail time), dangerous driving under the Criminal Code of Canada (up to five years in jail), and street racing (a $2,000 to $10,000 fine, up to 6 months in jail, and a licence suspension of up to two years for the first conviction).

If the car behind you is way too close, the best way to get rid of them is to let them safely pass, DiCicco says, "If you see them getting closer and closer your rear view mirror and you're getting the heebie- jeebies and constricted bowels, you want to make it easier for them to pass you," he says.

Make it easier for them to pass

First, you want to pull as far to the right in your lane as you can, and maintain a constant speed. Don't suddenly speed up or slow down.

If you decide to slow down, don't do it while the car's still behind you. Wait until he's pulled into the oncoming lane.

"It would be dumb to slow down while he's behind you and is trying to overtake you," DiCicco says.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at

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