... So you’re going to put your indicator on and then you’re going to start to look. You’re going to start to make sure it’s safe to make the pass. The first thing might be to check your mirrors. So you want to check your side view mirror to make sure it’s safe. Then you want to quickly turn your head. Make sure there isn’t any other car in our space of which we want to pass. And then we want to move our car into the lane and pass the vehicle on our right side.

Then the train of thought then is when do we move back into the lane that we came from? And the rule of thumb on that is that we need to see the car that we passed completely in our rear view mirror. And then at that point we know that we have enough distance to safely put our indicator to the right and move back into that lane.

So those are some rules on passing. Again, never over a solid line. Make sure you put your indicator on before, giving your indication of where you want to pass. And then make sure it’s safe to do so. You have to check your mirrors. Turn your head. And those are way you can make a nice, safe pass.

A source for this is transcript for Passing Rules for Driving.

  • Wait a sec! Two "then"s?! "...Then the train of thought then is when do we move back into the lane that we came from?..." Are you sure you paraphrased the article/book correctly?
    – M.A.R.
    Apr 24, 2015 at 15:19
  • 1
    No, train of thought here means exactly what it is supposed to mean. The 2 "then"s are weird though.Just remove one of the then's and it will make sense.
    Apr 24, 2015 at 15:46
  • Maybe if you explained what puzzles you - e.g. what do you think the highlighted phrases are supposed to mean? And yes, I agree with @snailboat and would also like to know what you're quoting.
    – Lucky
    Apr 24, 2015 at 16:24
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    train of thought and rule of thumb have their normal meanings. The use of 'then' before and after the train of thought is just unique to the speaker. It does not affect the meaning.
    – user6951
    Apr 24, 2015 at 17:25
  • So you do or you don't you have another question? If not, I suggest deleting the question, as it is going to get closed and eventually deleted anyway, if the dictionary definitions are all you needed...
    – user6951
    Apr 24, 2015 at 18:58

1 Answer 1


"Train of thought" is a figure of speech meaning "a connected series of thoughts" or, sometimes, it describes a flow of thought. In the quoted text, it is used to explain what you should be thinking under the given circumstances.

"Rule of thumb" is a very old figure of speech. It was first seen in English around 1685, but there are older instances of similar figures of speech in other European languages. It can be used to describe an imperfect rule that is generally good to follow, a standard that is loosely appropriate for evaluating something, or a useful process that isn't very well defined. The origin of the phrase is thought to have something to do with measurement, like in the way a craftsman without measuring tools can use his thumb to estimate an inch. The quoted article also uses this phrase correctly.

The text quoted in the question, though, is very poorly written and is probably very confusing to non-native speakers. Besides the figures of speech, there are many examples of bad communication habits and blatant errors, which make it even harder than it should be to understand the idioms. Your trouble understanding these figures of speech probably has more to do with the poor quality of the article overall than it does the actual figures of speech.

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