What’s the difference between yellow lines and white lines?
Good question! We’ve got the scoop on the road lines British Columbia and Canada. Let’s drive right in. 🚘 🚘 🚘
Road Lines British Columbia, Canada Video
*This info is relevant to British Columbia, Canada but may also apply to other parts of Canada and the US. Thanks for helping me make a video with your Corvette, dad! 😂
Yellow Road Lines Separate Traffic Moving in Different Directions.
White Road Lines separate traffic moving in the same direction.
So where do we find these mysterious white road lines? Basically, we will find them anywhere the traffic is moving in the same direction, which is commonly :
- One-way streets
- HOV Lanes
- Multi-lane roads
White Road Lines on Cambie Street, Vancouver
Ah yes, beautiful British Columbia! Here’s Cambie Street heading North around 33rd Avenue or so. Just notice the white lines separate traffic that is moving in the same direction. In this case, the oncoming traffic is located on the other side of the boulevard.
The Yellow Road Line Should Always Be To Your Left Unless You Are Passing or Crossing It To Turn (Generally Speaking)
Sometimes, your car might ‘be’ on the other side of the yellow line. For example, sometimes you might cross over the line in order to make a left turn. Or sometimes you might be passing another vehicle on the highway. But in general, stay to the right of the yellow line.
You May Lane Change Over Broken White Road Lines When Safe
This is Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam. Notice the white lines are separating traffic that is moving in the same direction. The opposing traffic is ‘over there’ somewhere else (again on the other side of the boulevard). Notice the yellow line on the far left hand side of this picture, indicating the opposite direction will be found on the other side of this line.
BC Laws Prohibit Lane Changing – It Is Illegal – Over Solid White Road Lines
Do not change lanes over sold white lines. They are there for a reason. These are usually found on the approach to intersections, crosswalks, and certain other spots. Changing lanes in the middle or before an intersection is dangerous, so these lines are here discouraging the action.
ICBC Laws Indicate That Passing is Technically Allowed with extra caution over one solid yellow road line (if and when safe), at your discretion
This isn’t the best photo example for this but hopefully you understand this concept. If you’re driving on a highway and you have only one solid yellow line, you are allowed to pass another vehicle at your discretion.
You may pass – it is allowed – in either direction over one dotted yellow road line – if and when safe – at your discretion
Passing is allowed over these dotted yellow lines. Keep in mind, you never ‘have to’ pass another vehicle. You could also just be patient and enjoy the scenery. Passing is an advanced skill. The dotted line can rather suddenly switch back to a double sold yellow line, so keep that in mind when planning and looking far ahead up the road while driving. If you’re not sure it’s safe, simply don’t do it.
It is illegal to pass and is not allowed against double yellow solid road lines
Here are the lines where it is positively illegal to pass another vehicle. The lines are in place because it’s simply not safe to overtake another vehicle on a particular road or stretch of the road. This is usually due to visibility – or other – important safety issues.
Drivers are allowed to pass over a solid yellow road line with a broken yellow road line only if the broken line is closest to you.
(If the solid road line is closest to you, it is illegal for you to pass)
This happens when one half of the road (one direction of traffic) has good visibility and the other direction doesn’t. You’d think they would both be the same, but it isn’t the case.
Think about it. When you walk down the road for a while, you see a certain view in front of you, right? If you were to turn around suddenly and go back the opposite direction, is the view the same?
Many times it is a completely different scene. This is why we need to respect the lines and trust that they are here to keep us safe. We may not know what’s up the road, but the engineers (smart people) who designed the roads and the line patterns for us do.
This Video Shows Illegal Passing Over the Road lines
Oh dear. Here are 2 vehicles passing illegally. This is illegal because the solid part of the line is directly to our left, which means it is not legal to pass here. It may look like the visibility is Okay, but things change quickly. There are dips and curves in the road – and many other things – that we do not anticipate.
Of course I probably don’t need to mention that this type of illegal passing can lead to head-on crashes, the worst kind of crash possible.
How can pavement markings indicate that you are driving in the right direction?
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 road line should be on your LEFT. If the yellow line is on your RIGHT, then you’re on the wrong side of the road.
This is how pavement markings can indicate that you are driving in the right direction.
Notice in the following video that there’s a yellow line to our left. This is because we were on a two-way road that lead to a ramp. Then, it turns into a solid white line as we join up with another lane which is going the same direction. Then the solid line changes to dotted as we move away from the place where the two lanes joined each other.
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 Learn To Drive Smart Manual
Hope this all made sense 🚗
Hey, I’m Carmen, a being from Earth who has loved cars & driving for many moons. I became an ICBC GLP (graduated licensing program) driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada. The beautiful ‘North Shore’ was such a dream location. I’ve been working on this here website since 2012 when I created it.