Road Lines – Everything You Need To Know

(Last Updated On: January 16, 2017)

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.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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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)

 

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ILLEGAL PASSING x2:

 


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? 

 

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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.

 

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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?

 

 

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From the ICBC Book

 

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

 

Hope that helps

 


 

 

Many moons ago, Carmen became an ICBC-approved driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, and has spent many years working with new and experienced drivers around the lower mainland. She can be found reading the Motor Vehicle Act for fun while receiving strange looks from others. May the quest for great driving continue!

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  • Georgia Boothe

    It’s interesting how different countries and areas do road line marking so differently! Here in the states, you’re not ever supposed to cross solid yellow lines, yet in British Columbia apparently you’re allowed to pass as long as you’re careful. However, some things are similar, such as not being able to pass across the double yellow solid lines. I’d love to see what other similarities and differences there are in other countries!
    http://www.pelicanlinemarking.com.au/

    • Hi!! Yeah it’s interesting!! Hey maybe I should write a long post about that comparing all the different places and their lines.. thanks for the idea. It does make it confusing when travelling .. or having expectations of tourists 🙂

  • Derek

    If your lane is changing to two lanes, do you need to signal to the one you plan to enter

    • Hi, it’s optional.. Technically you aren’t lane changing so you don’t legally have to, but sometimes it’s nice to do a quick signal out of courtesy to the drivers behind you.

  • Anon

    If im taking a right in a lane with no bike lane beside, then as i sharply turn around the curb, a bike lane appears… Is this a problem that i did not notice the bike lane prior to turning, and do i gradually shift into the regular vehicle lane? (keep in mind that the bike lane turned into is solid white line, no dashes)

    • Do you mean you ended up driving on top of the bike lane? Yes generally before you do any turn you should check out where you are going to end up before you turn. You have to know where you’re going, it’s important, and you can’t make it up as you go as that’s not really safe or recommended practice. Once you realize where you’re supposed to be, though just make sure it’s safe and then move into the correct position…

  • James

    I just got a ticket for going into the exit lane and then reentering onto the freeway in traffic. Is this illegal? There was a sign that said right lane must exit but the line was dashed when I crossed. Comments and thoughts. I was about to exit, but decided to go to the next exit.

    • Timothy Fish

      Did you signal a lane change when you reentered the freeway traffic? If not, then it would be illegal. If you did, then it should not be considered illegal. Though it might also be considered illegal if you passed other traffic before you reentered the freeway traffic.

      • Also what did the ticket say. i.e. what is the actual violation?

  • Rob Mc Eachern

    can I cross over a single yellow line that divides a
    roadway when leaving a driveway

  • Lexi

    Can you turn left on a solid yellow line on a busy street?

  • Maureen

    Double yellow line behind a horse carriage (Amish) can you pass?

  • RDTTMM

    When driving with a double yellow on your left and a white line on your right, is it better to be close to the white or yellow line?? (It’s a two lane road, with traffic traveling in both directions.)

    • what’s wrong with the middle?

      • It’s better to be closer to the white if you had to pick one, as closer to the yellow means closer to an oncoming/head on collision and closer to the white means closer to simply driving along the right part of the road or shoulder.

      • Circaenterprise

        try stay in the middle! Should not lean on either side.

  • Anita

    If I’m in a safe passing zone marked 80km and have 2 cars in front of me after passing the first vehicle do I have to then go back to the right lane before overtaking the second vehicle or can I stay in the left lane and continue passing if there are no oncoming vehicles?

    If I remain in the left lane and am approaching to pass the second vehicle do I have the right of way or would they? Is the onus on the vehicle in front of me to use their mirrors before crossing the center line and making a left turn across the roadway while I’m getting ready to pass them?

    • Oh, that’s a whole new can of worms, that should probably have it’s very own post… thanks for the inspiration!

  • Liam Ma

    Thank you so much! This really helped. I don’t usually take time to comment but I really did appreciate this post!

    • Hey no worries I am happy it was helpful!! I can tell that this post is popular from the site stats. But it is pretty sweet to get a comment once in a while 😉

  • Dave

    Solid white line…. Icbc claim adjuster was wrong!

  • k

    Thanks! This was helpful!

    • BCDrivingBlog

      don’t mention it 🙂

  • Emma

    I see people ignoring the ‘no passing over solid white lines’ rule all the time.
    I mean, there is no situation where that is okay right? ? e.g. – a bus in front stopped to let people on, and even though the white line was solid, every car (except me) changed lanes and continued on. I felt like a bit of fool sitting there stuck behind the bus lol.

    • carmenac

      Technically it is illegal to change lanes over a solid white line. Try to look farther ahead when you drive – as far as you can possibly see – and keep your eyes moving. That way you can go around the bus way before you get stuck behind it. City busses stop a lot and that is predictable. When driving always pick the ‘lane of least resistance’ and the lane in which you have the least potential conflicts and the greatest visibility. Try that out and let me know how it works for you!