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​Pavement Markings

Most roads have permanent markings to show the center of the road, travel lanes, or road edges. The markings that show the center of the road are solid or broken lines. These pavement markings also indicate special lane use. Yellow lines divide traffic traveling in opposite directions. Yellow lines are used to mark the center of two-lane roads, and to mark the left edge of divided highways, one-way streets, and ramps. Solid white lines divide lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction. Solid white lines are also used to mark the right edge of the road.

As a general rule, broken traffic lines can be crossed and solid lines cannot, except when making a turn.

Some examples of different pavement markings and their meanings follow:

A single, broken yellow centerline shows the center of a two-way, two-lane road. Passing is permitted on either side, if safe conditions exist. When passing, you must use the lane belonging to oncoming traffic.

A double, solid yellow centerline shows the center of a two-way road. Even if it is not marked with a NO PASSING sign, passing by traffic traveling in either direction is not allowed on roads marked in this manner.

The combination of a solid yellow and a broken yellow centerline also shows the center of a two-way roadway. You may pass if the broken line is on your side of the road and safe conditions exist, but you may not pass when a solid yellow line is on your side of the road.

Marking patterns like these may be found on many three-lane or five-lane highways. The outside, solid yellow centerline means you cannot use the center lane for passing. The inside, broken yellow and solid yellow centerlines show vehicles traveling in either direction may use the center lane only to make left turns. Refer to Chapter 3 for more information about using center turn lanes safely.

Multi-lane highways without medians (center dividers) are often marked as shown. Broken white lines show which lanes can be used by vehicles traveling the same way. You may cross the broken white lines to pass, (be sure the passing lane is clear) but you may not cross the double yellow centerlines to pass. Traffic is traveling in the opposite direction in the lane to the left of the yellow centerline.

This pattern is used on most limited access highways with medians (center dividers). The right edge of the road is marked with a solid white line. The left edge of each side is marked by a solid yellow line. The traffic lanes for each side are marked by broken white lines, which may be crossed.

Pavement markings also include words painted on the pavement and arrows that supplement messages posted on regulatory and warning signs. Examples include the words STOP AHEAD before an intersection with a STOP sign, YIELD or white triangles painted across the lane to indicate you must yield to approaching traffic, SCHOOL before a school zone, R X R before a railroad crossing, BIKE LANE for a lane reserved for bicyclists, ONLY with a left or right arrow to indicate the lane is reserved for turns only and large white arrows to indicate the direction of travel on one-way streets and highway off-ramps.