Do you know all the road markings?

Shutterstock.com/ Alexey Stiop

If you passed your driver theory test you will likely know what all road markings mean. However, if that was a while ok you have probably forgotten many of them. In addition, depending on what country you are in different road markings can mean different things. So let’s dive in and see what a road marking means.

Everyone should know what a solid white line in the middle of the road means. It means don’t overtake because it is dangerous to do so. Usually, this indicated that the road has some bends or hidden dips that don’t allow you to see oncoming traffic. In some countries this line is yellow, but it means the same thing. 

If the line is broken then it shows that it is now safe to overtake. While these are useful guidelines they are also the rules of the road. If you overtake on a solid white line don’t be surprised if a police car pulls you over for dangerous driving.

If there are two solid lines in the middle of the road, common in many European countries, this again means no overtaking. The reason for two lines is to signal to driver on both sides of the road that is dangerous. Often this double line will change to one solid line and one broken line. This means that cars with the broken line on their side are safe to overtake while cars with the solid line are not. As you can imagine, this usually means that a bend is coming for one side of the road but not the other.

On the sides of the road, a solid yellow line usually means no parking while a broken line can mean parking is allowed. In the UK a double yellow line means parking is not allowed but stopping for pick ups or drop offs is. The yellow box is an important one to know as well. A yellow box in the middle of the road means you can not stop there. Even if traffic is heavy you should leave the yellow box free. The yellow box is often placed at intersections to allow traffic on a minor road to enter a major road. However, the yellow box is sometimes placed outside busy loading zones so watch out for it. In London, if you stay inside the box for too long you will be fined so it is something to watch out for.

There are some strange colored lines used around the world too. If driving in New Zealand don’t be surprised if you see a blue line near the coast. This is to tell you where to go if a tsunami occurs. Follow the blue line to higher ground. In California, a blue line is used to indicate that parking is permitted for a disabled person. It is important not to get those mixed up.

In the Netherlands, you may start to come across solid green lines. These are a new environmental idea where the lines will absorb sunlight during the day and shine brightly in darkness at night, removing the need for street lights. 

A new study has shown that people drive slower when there are no lines on the road and are suggesting that the removal of lines could increase driver safety. That is one of the most ridiculous ideas we have ever heard of. If car manufacturers put a massive spike in the steering wheel that would pierce through your body if braked suddenly, we are sure people would drive slower. That doesn’t make it a good idea.

Lines on the roads date all the way back to 1918 in the United Kingdom and have been subtly advising drivers ever since. Removing them would be an absolutely silly idea. Still, we have pursued many silly ideas in the past so don’t be surprised if this one is pursued further.