Road line markings are one of those things you see everyday. But have you ever stopped to think about what the markings actually mean? When you get behind the wheel, there’s a good chance you’re following the road rules by habit. To improve road safety, it’s useful to remind yourself exactly what these road markings mean. So, let’s take a look.
Centre lines are those road markings that divide the road in half. They are typically white, although may be yellow for improved visibility in locations where it snows. You’re most likely to encounter these five variations of centre lines.
A broken centre line means that you must stay left, unless you are crossing to enter or leave the road, including accessing a property. You can also cross the centre line if you are completing a U-turn when it is safe to do so.
An unbroken centre line has more restrictions than a broken centre line. You need to stay left, and you cannot overtake or complete a U-turn. However, you can still cross the line if you are entering or leaving the road or a property, unless there are signs indicating not to.
- Double unbroken
A double unbroken centre line is essentially the opposite of a single broken centre line. You must stay left, and you cannot cross the line unless there are unusual circumstances, like avoiding an obstruction.
- Broken on left of unbroken
Treat this road marking similarly to a single broken line. You still need to stay left and you can cross the centre lines to enter or leave the road. Additionally, you can overtake or complete a U-turn if it is safe to do so.
Be aware that the left in this definition refers to your left as you drive. Therefore, as we drive on the left-hand side of the road in Australia, the broken line will be closest to you.
- Broken on right of unbroken
This road marking is the reverse of the above, meaning that the broken line is now closest to you. You need to treat it like a double unbroken line. Therefore, you must stay left, and you cannot cross it unless you are avoiding an obstruction.
For roads that have more traffic, it’s common to have multiple lanes going in each direction. To minimise road incidents, lane markings are used. These are the three kinds of lane markings you’ll regularly see.
A broken lane marking indicates that you should stay within the lines (the lane) but you can cross these lines to overtake if safe to do so. Remember, unless you’re overtaking, you should stay in the leftmost lane.
As with unbroken centre lines, unbroken lane lines should not be crossed unless there are special circumstances. This could be because there is an obstruction or a sign indicating you are allowed to cross this line.
- Curved across intersection
When multi-lane roads meet intersections, curved road markings are common. These road markings act as a guide to ensure that you do not accidentally change lanes as you turn. Do not overtake while turning as other drivers may not be expecting this.
Remember, like centre lines, lane markings are usually white but may be yellow if snow is a regular occurrence.
In busier areas, kerbs may also have road markings. These indicate parking availability or restrictions. They are traditionally yellow.
You cannot park next to a kerb with an unbroken yellow line unless it is an emergency. Be prepared for fines if you leave your car here for a long period of time or repeatedly.
A broken yellow line by a kerb means that the area is a clearway. There may be time restrictions on this however, so look for nearby signs for further information. Like an unbroken line though, you can park there in an emergency.
There may be additional kerb markings and signs to inform you of further restrictions around parking in the area. Follow parking rules and look for parking signs before leaving your vehicle.
Although it’s not just line markings that you need to focus on as you drive. Remember to keep your eyes on what and who is around you too. Avoid driving distracted. Otherwise, accidents can occur with extreme consequences, like losing your license, totalling your car and even killing someone or yourself.