Road Lines British Columbia & Canada {updated 2020}


Table Of Contents show

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.

road lines
Yellow lines separate traffic moving in opposite 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
  • Freeways
  • Highways
  • HOV Lanes
  • Multi-lane roads

white road lines
White lines separate traffic moving in the same direction

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)

yellow road lines
I think you hear me

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.

broken white road lines
Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam

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.

solid white road lines
Don’t Do It

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.

dotted yellow road lines

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.

yellow road lines

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? 

pavement markings showing you are driving in the right direction

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.

yellow and white road lines

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.

driving the wrong direction

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?
Oh Brentwood Mall, Why are you doing this!

From the ICBC Learn To Drive Smart Manual

ICBC Road Lines


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

ICBC Learn to Drive Smart Manual – Signs, Signals and Road Markings

Hope this all made sense 🚗


34 thoughts on “Road Lines British Columbia & Canada {updated 2020}”

  1. 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.)

  2. 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?

  3. 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 😉

  4. 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.

    • 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!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: