Who has right of way on a hill?

At the best of times driving in itself can be pretty terrifying; especially if you live around regions of the countryside where you come across plenty of single-track roads, steep hills and livestock every single day. Something which confuses many drivers, in general, are the rules of right of way, but particularly the idea of, who has right of way on a hill?

Driving up hills themselves can be pretty daunting, mainly for those in manual vehicles where you could be forced to put the car into first gear to avoid rolling back down the hill. The last thing you want is for another car to be coming down the hill, forcing you out of the way, stressful right! So what should you do in this situation, and who exactly has right of way on a hill?

So Who Does Have The Right Of Way?

According to Rule 155 of the highway code, which is mostly applicable to those of you who drive in the countryside, the laws surrounding single track roads are as follows: "These are only wide enough for one vehicle. They may have special passing places. If you see a vehicle coming towards you, or the driver behind wants to overtake, pull into a passing place on your left, or wait opposite a passing place on your right. Give way to road users coming uphill whenever you canIf necessary, reverse until you reach a passing place to let the other vehicle pass. Slow down when passing pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders" This, therefore, eludes to the fact that those who are coming uphill have right of the way on a hill and those waiting at the top should always give way to those coming up the hill. 

Driving up a hill is strenuous for a vehicle no matter how powerful, especially if it's quite steep, so adding another car into the equation is incredibly dangerous. It is virtually impossible for a vehicle going uphill to stop and reverse down a hill safely, as the driver could quite easily lose control and cause an accident.

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What About Motorway Driving On Hills?


Rule 139 of the highway code surrounds motorway and dual carriageway driving where some vehicles struggle to get up the hill; leaving drivers unsure on which lane to drive in whilst they make a slow climb. Rule 139 states: "Climbing and crawler lanes. These are provided on some hills. Use this lane if you are driving a slow-moving vehicle or if there are vehicles behind you wishing to overtake. Be aware of the signs and road markings which indicate the lane is about to end."

What Happens If You Do Not Comply With Right Of Way:

The laws surrounding the highway code are quite confusing in that some of the rules are actually illegal and others not. What I mean by this is that there is no direct law surrounding what would happen if you were to not give way to another vehicle. However, it could be said that if you were to cause an accident due to the fact that you weren't giving way, you would undeniably be prosecuted for it and the blame put on you, as you weren't abiding by the highway code. You should always comply with the "right of way" purely due to how dangerous the road can be if you do not abide by road laws.


The Dangers Of Not Giving Right Of Way On A Hill:

Not giving right of way on a hill can be pretty dangerous due to the fact that it is very hard to stop and start when coming uphill. If it's a single track road, make sure to give right of way to those who are coming uphill.

How To Drive Downhill?

  • Use a lower gear to give the vehicle a better grip on the road whilst avoiding higher gears due to power and speed. 
  • Don't go into neutral 
  • Engine braking if you can't use your brakes
  • Take it easy, keep slow and steady and make sure to take corners safely.
  • Observe your surroundings

How Do You Drive Uphill?

  • When at the bottom of a steep hill start from the first gear if in traffic. 
  • If there is no traffic use the straight road to accumulate speed to help you combat the hill, but get ready to switch to a lower gear when the vehicle starts struggling.
  • Assess the hill prior; Scout out any issues you may find on the way up, like potholes or debris on the road.

How Do You Drive An Automatic Car Up A Steep Hill?

The best way to tackle a steep hill in an automatic car is by selecting a lower gear with the paddles by putting it into manual mode. Most automatic vehicles offer the feature of having paddles so that you can replicate manual gearbox driving if you want to. Purposefully put the vehicle into a lower gear to help you climb the hill easier. If you are in an automatic vehicle without this feature, make sure you use your accelerator more than usual and assess your surroundings constantly. 

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