What’s the difference between yellow lines and white lines?

Good question!

Road Lines Video


*This info is relevant to British Columbia, Canada but may also apply to other parts of Canada and the US. 


Yellow lines separate traffic moving in different directions.




White lines separate traffic moving in the same direction (one-way streets, freeways, HOV lane, etc.) 







 The yellow line should – in general – always be to your left. 




Lane changing is allowed over broken white lines (when safe)





Lane changing is not allowed over solid white lines (It is illegal)







Passing is technically allowed with extra caution over one solid yellow line (if and when safe), at your discretion




Passing is allowed in either direction over one dotted yellow line – if and when safe – at your discretion




Passing is not allowed against double yellow solid lines (It is illegal)




Passing is allowed over a solid yellow line with a broken yellow line only if the broken line is closest to you.

(If the solid line is closest to you, it is illegal for you to pass)





Pop Quiz! If you are driving on this one-way ramp and you see these lines, which direction should the car be going? Is it traveling toward us or away from us? 





If you guessed this way, then you’re correct. Remember that the yellow line should be on your LEFT. If the yellow line is on your RIGHT, then you’re on the wrong side of the road.












Lines on Private Property


  • Please note that on private property these guidelines may differ.
  • For example, there might be a white line separating traffic moving in opposite directions
  • (normally we would expect a yellow line for this)
  • Brentwood Mall parking lot in Burnaby comes to mind.
  • I’m not sure if it’s just temporary because it’s under construction?
  • See what I mean?
  • Brentwood Mall parking lot has a solid white line here which separates traffic moving in different directions, which is weird.
  • So just be aware that owners of private property can pretty much do whatever they want in terms of road lines, road signs, etc.
  • Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon in parking lots/private property?








From the ICBC Book


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 Read more: Can I turn left across yellow lines into a driveway?


Hope that helps