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Understanding Road Markings

As with road signs, it can be challenging to understand all of the different road markings. It is important to have a good working knowledge of what they mean, as they affect what you are allowed to do in certain situations.

Along the Carriageway


Broken White Lines: These lines are painted down the centre of the road to split it into distinct sides. If the lines suddenly become longer with less gaps between them, there is some form of hazard coming up that you need to watch out for. Don't go over these lines without being able to see that the road is clear, or unless you need to turn off.

Double white lines with the nearest line broken: You can cross this for overtaking, as long as you have fully overtaken before the lines turn back into solid double lines.

Solid double white lines: Do not cross these lines unless you're sure that it is safe to do so, or if you need to overtake a slow-moving road maintenance vehicle, cyclist or horse rider.

White diagonal stripes: These are often used to separate lanes of traffic or to protect traffic that is turning right. If the area is bordered by a broken white line or solid white lines, you should not go into the area unless it is an emergency.




Lane dividers: Short broken white lines are used on wide carriageways to separate lanes. You should stay between these lines even when overtaking (move into another lane to overtake, rather than straddling two lanes).

Reflective road studs: These are used to help drivers in the dark, when road markings are often less visible.

White studs mark out lanes or indicate where the middle of the road is (if there is only one lane on each side of the road).

Red studs indicate where the left hand edge of the road is.

Amber studs mark the central reservation on dual carriageways and motorways.

Green studs indicate where the end of the carriageway is on slip roads, side roads and lay-bys.

Across the carriageway: These road markings will usually be found running across the carriageway.



Thick broken white lines at level crossings: You need to stop when you see this road marking.

Double thick broken white lines (little gaps): On major roads, you need to give way to other traffic.

Thick broken white lines (bigger gaps): At roundabouts, you need to give way to traffic coming from the right.

Very thick broken white lines: At mini-roundabouts, give way to traffic coming from the right.

Double yellow lines: Don't park on these lines.

Single yellow lines: If the lines are accompanied by a sign giving times, you shouldn't park or wait on the lines during the times indicated.

Double red lines: These are used on Red Routes and operate in a similar way to yellow lines. Double red lines mean no stopping at ANY time. Only licensed taxis and Blue Badge holders are allowed to wait on red lines.

Single red lines: A single red line will be accompanied by a sign telling you when you can not stop there e.g. No Stopping Mon-Sat 7am -7pm.

Yellow lines on the kerb: Loading or unloading is not allowed during the times indicated. Passengers may be let in or out of vehicles.

Other road markings to look out for include:

  • Bus stops
  • Bus lanes
  • Box junctions
  • 'Keep Clear' signs
  • Reserved parking bays
  • 'Give Way' triangles
  • Traffic lane indicators - arrows indicate the directions that each lane should take e.g. right, left or straight on.

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Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated May 2022.