The Long And The Short Of White Lines

White lines are a familiar part of the road landscape, but they all do a different job. The information they are intended to impart varies, despite the fact to the busy driver they all look the same.

As a rule of thumb, the more paint there is on the road surface, the more danger or potential danger there is at that point.

For example, do you know the difference between a short white line on the middle of the carriageway and a longer white line? The first marks the boundary of the lane, without any other information. The second also warns of a hazard: a potential danger point.

How about if there are two solid white lines running down the middle of the carriageway? This is to divide two opposing lanes of traffic and you cannot cross it except in certain specific circumstances - turning into/out of an entrance, passing a stationary vehicle or overtaking slow-moving vehicles, pedal cycles or horses. From time to time you will see a single solid white line, coupled with a dotted one, either on your side of the carriageway or the other. The line nearest your side of the road is the important one - if it is solid, the rule above applies!

One that gets forgotten sometimes is that it is an offence to park where there are double white lines in the centre of the road - even if there is room.

If you are ever uncertain of the meaning of a white line, make a point of checking the Highway Code. Things do change and it is quite important to keep up to date with new markings - or even reintroduce yourself to those you may have forgotten.

4 July 2007 Staff

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