Road Markings: What Do They Mean?

Have you ever found yourself seeing road markings and felt slightly unsure as to what they actually mean? Whether you’re a new or seasoned driver, it’s important to be aware of road markings as they help the smooth flow of traffic and prevent accidents.

This comprehensive guide will help you understand what the different road markings in the UK really mean.

Centre line road markings

UK road markings

Edge line

The edge line is marked with a solid white line along the side of the road. It indicates the boundary between the carriageway and the pavement. The Highway Code advises drivers to stay within the boundary defined by the edge line and not to cross it, except when necessary for overtaking or turning.

Centre line

The centre line is marked with a broken white line or a combination of broken and solid white lines on the road. It indicates the separation between opposing traffic flows. The Highway Code advises “Do not cross it unless you can see the road is clear and wish to overtake or turn off.”

Hazard warning line

Hazard warning lines are similar to centre lines but the painted sections are longer in length than the broken unpainted stretches (like in the images below).

When this line lengthens and the gaps shorten, this indicates a hazard ahead such as a bend.

Double white lines

UK road markings

Double white lines are marked with two parallel solid white lines on the road. They indicate that drivers are prohibited from crossing or straddling the lines, except in certain circumstances specified in the Highway Code (128). When the line nearest to you is broken, it “means you may cross the lines to overtake if it is safe, provided you can complete the manoeuvre before reaching a solid white line on your side.” On the other hand, if it is solid, you MUST NOT cross or straddle it unless it is safe. The Highway Code specifically says “You may cross the line if necessary, provided the road is clear, to pass a stationary vehicle, or overtake a pedal cycle, horse or road maintenance vehicle, if they are travelling at 10 mph (16 km/h) or less.“

Lane line

Lane lines are marked with broken white lines on the road, separating different lanes of traffic. They indicate the division between lanes and guide drivers in maintaining their lane position. The Highway Code advises drivers to follow the lane lines and avoid changing lanes within the lane lines unless necessary and safe.

Areas of white diagonal stripes

Areas of white diagonal stripes or chevrons are marked on the road surface, usually in areas where special precautions are required. They serve as a warning to drivers to exercise caution and adjust their speed accordingly. The Highway Code (130) advises drivers not to enter the area marked with stripes unless in an emergency.

Markings across the road

Stop line at signals or police control

UK road markings

A stop line at signals or police control is marked with a solid white line across the road, usually at traffic signal-controlled junctions or where traffic is being controlled by police. It indicates the point where drivers must come to a complete stop and wait for a green signal or instructions from the police before proceeding.

Stop line at ‘Stop’ sign

UK road markings

A stop line at a ‘Stop’ sign is marked with a solid white line across the road, usually at junctions or intersections where ‘Stop’ signs are in place. It indicates the point where drivers must come to a complete stop and yield to other traffic before proceeding.

Stop line for pedestrians at a level crossing

UK road markings

A stop line for pedestrians at a level crossing is marked with a solid white line across the road, usually at railway level crossings. It indicates the point where drivers must come to a complete stop and wait behind the line when the level crossing barriers are down or the warning lights are flashing.

Give way to traffic on major road

A give way line is marked with a broken white line across the road, usually at junctions where the road you are driving on joins a major road. It indicates that drivers must yield to traffic on the major road and wait for a safe gap before proceeding.

Give way to traffic from the right at a roundabout

UK road markings

A give way line is marked with a broken white line across the road, usually at larger roundabouts. It indicates that drivers approaching the roundabout must yield to traffic already on the roundabout and give way to vehicles coming from the right.

Give way to traffic from the right at a mini-roundabout

UK road markings

A give way line is marked with a broken white line across the road, usually at mini-roundabouts. It indicates that drivers approaching the mini-roundabout must yield to traffic already on the roundabout and give way to vehicles coming from the right.

Parking and waiting road markings

UK road markings

No waiting at any time (double yellow line)

No waiting road markings consist of a solid yellow line along the edge of the road. They indicate that parking or waiting is strictly prohibited at all times. The Highway Code (238) emphasises that drivers must not park or wait on roads marked with solid yellow lines.

No waiting during times shown on sign (single yellow line)

No waiting road markings may include a broken yellow line along the edge of the road with accompanying signs indicating specific time restrictions. They indicate that parking or waiting is prohibited during the specified times shown on the signs. Drivers must adhere to these restrictions to avoid penalties.

Waiting is limited to the duration specified during the days and times shown

Parking and waiting road markings may consist of a broken yellow line along the edge of the road with accompanying signs specifying the duration of allowed parking or waiting. The Highway Code allows drivers to park or wait for the specified duration only during the days and times shown on the signs. Pay close attention to the times displayed on the plates.

UK road markings

No stopping at any time (double red lines)

No stopping road markings are marked with double red lines along the edge of the road. They indicate that stopping, even for a brief period, is strictly prohibited at all times.

No stopping during times shown on sign

No stopping road markings may include double red lines along the edge of the road with accompanying signs indicating specific time restrictions. They indicate that stopping is prohibited during the specified times shown on the signs. Drivers must adhere to these restrictions to avoid fines/ penalties.

Parking is limited to the duration specified during the days and times shown

Parking road markings may consist of a single or double yellow line along the edge of the road with accompanying signs specifying the duration of allowed parking. The Highway Code allows drivers to park for the specified duration only during the days and times shown on the signs.

Only loading may take place at the times shown for up to a maximum duration of 20 mins

Loading road markings may consist of a single or double yellow line along the edge of the road with accompanying signs indicating specific loading restrictions

On kerb

UK road markings

No loading or unloading at any time

Road markings indicating “No loading or unloading at any time” are marked with two solid yellow lines along the kerb. They signify that loading or unloading of goods or passengers is strictly prohibited at all times. The Highway Code (247) emphasises that drivers must not engage in any loading or unloading activities on roads marked with a solid yellow line.

No loading or unloading at the times shown

Some road markings may feature a solid yellow line along the kerb with accompanying signs indicating specific time restrictions for loading or unloading. They indicate that loading or unloading activities are prohibited during the specified times shown on the signs. Drivers must comply with these restrictions to avoid penalties.

Loading only bay

Loading bay road markings typically consist of a rectangular box marked with white diagonal stripes along the kerb. They indicate designated areas where loading or unloading of goods or passengers is permitted for a limited duration. The Highway Code specifies that drivers may use loading bays for the purposes of loading or unloading within the specified time limits. It will have a stick figure carrying a trolley (white on blue) with the words “Loading Only”.

Other road markings

School

Road markings near schools often include a zigzag pattern marked with yellow lines along the road. They indicate a school zone and are intended to alert drivers to the presence of children and the need to exercise caution. The Highway Code stresses that drivers must not park or stop on the zigzag lines at any time, as they provide clear visibility for pedestrians.

Give way

UK road markings

Give way road markings consist of a long triangular symbol marked on the road surface. They indicate that drivers approaching the marking must yield the right of way to vehicles on the major road or at a junction.

Parking space reserved for vehicles named

Parking spaces reserved for vehicles with specific names or designations are often marked with additional signage indicating the reservation such as “DOCTOR”. The Highway Code requires drivers to respect these reserved spaces and refrain from parking in them unless they are authorised to do so.

Bus stop

UK road markings

Bus stop road markings usually include a yellow square box marked with white letters or symbols on the road surface. They indicate designated areas where buses stop to pick up or drop off passengers. The Highway Code specifies that drivers must not park or stop in a bus stop area, as it is reserved exclusively for buses and the safe boarding and alighting of passengers.

Bus lane

Bus lane road markings are typically marked with solid white lines and include additional signage indicating the lane’s exclusive use by buses during specified times. The Highway Code (141) advises drivers to avoid entering bus lanes during their designated operational hours, as it is an offence to do so unless otherwise permitted.

Yellow box junction

UK road markings

The yellow boxes filled with criss-crossing yellow lines are known as box junctions.

The boxes appear at busy junctions to ensure the flow of traffic and the exit road must be clear for you to enter the box, but you can wait in one if oncoming traffic or other vehicles are preventing your right turn. At signalled roundabouts you MUST NOT enter the box unless you can cross over it completely without stopping.

Labelled lanes

You’ll often find lanes on motorways and wider roads labelled with the names of routes and locations ahead such as “M4” with the appropriate arrow pointing to the direction.

Source: Highway Code, Images

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