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What do Different Carriageway Markings Mean?

By: Simon McBride - Updated: 27 May 2015 | comments*Discuss
What Do Different Carriageway Markings Mean?

The UK road network is full of different road markings, these are to help you get to your destination with ease. Normally they advise motorists on what they should be doing whether this is warning drivers to slow down or it could be directional and tell motorists on the correct lane to take. Road markings are an aid to all motorists – you should always take heed of what they are commanding you to do.

Broken White Lines

A broken white line in the middle of the road: This separates one side of a single carriageway road from the other.

White Lines

A smaller broken white line in the middle of the road: This separates traffic travelling in the same direction into two lanes, this can be seen on a single carriageway when there is a “Climbing Lane” for slower traffic or it can be more commonly seen on a dual carriageway to separate the two lanes of traffic.

A longer broken white line in the middle of the road: This usually means that you are approaching a hazard, there may also be an accompanying upright sign in the vicinity which will indicate the nature of the hazard, such as a bend, a hidden dip or that you are approaching a junction.


Hatching: You will notice this as it is marked by diagonal white lines (hatched markings) these are placed in the centre of the road. The hatching separates one side of the road from the other and is usually placed and needed when there is a junction off the current road. The sole use is to protect the traffic that is turning right. You must not enter any hatched area for any other reason than turning to your right.


Chevron Hatching: This is where part of the carriageway traffic passes in the same direction on either side of the chevron marking. You cannot enter the chevron hatching unless safe to do so. This is usually found at exits off dual carriageways and motorways.

Chevrons enclosed in a triangular and continuous boundary: This means that vehicles must not enter the marked area except in an emergency. This marking can normally be found where slip roads leave and join motorways and dual carriageways.

Directional Arrow: If there is an arrow marked on the road, then, if your route follows that direction you must get in the correct lane with the corresponding arrow.

Double White lines

If you see a double white line then you are forbidden to overtake. These lines are usually placed where visibility is restricted, such as blind bends and hidden dips. Double continuous lines can also be seen on other single carriageway roads that have two lanes in at least one direction. You are forbidden to cross or straddle a continuous white line if it is closest to the direction that you are travelling in. However there are exceptions to cross a continuous white line. You can cross it if you are turning into or out of a side road or property or if you have to avoid a stationary vehicle, which is blocking your side of the road. Other exceptions include overtaking a pedal cycle, a horse or road works vehicle that is moving at less than 10mph but only if it is safe to do so.

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@anette. There may be someone reading this who has a similar experience. Unfortunately it sounds as though this has already been looked at by the courts from what you've told us. A motoring lawyer/expert may be your best option, but of course, as you say, they're not cheap.
TrafficSignsAndMeanings - 24-Feb-15 @ 10:31 AM
Hello, we found that restrictive road marking "school stay clear" is placed in front of our house in violation of the regulation which prescribes its application. The nearest school is 70 m away and that entrance is out if use. The actual school entrance has no marking affecting residence. This made us and two other houses severely disadvantaged compared to many houses located much closer to the school. We provided our evidence to both Parking Tribunal and Network Management at local council. We received no response from the council other than fresh paint on the marking. Council hired expensive lawyers and tribunal rejected our appeals as they only enforce existing restrictions. Although even application is against the regulation as council called our historical dedicated parking areas "pavement". Could you advise what other action can be performed to remove illegal restriction. Are there any independent experts who can assess the site and provide professional expertise of the application of Traffic Signs regulation and other applicable legal acts.
anette - 21-Feb-15 @ 6:26 PM
@massive - shark's teeth markings normally denote stop/yield in the states and parts of Europe (most notably Holland where there are lots of cyclists). We're not familiar with the area you mention so cannot find the reason for them. Your local highways department will be able to help though.
TrafficSignsAndMeanings - 13-Nov-14 @ 10:23 AM
does anyone know what the 2 sets of painted shark teeth on the surface of the road depict just outside of Gisburn on the way to Nelson in Lancs. I cannot recall seeing them elsewhere and can find no reference on Google.
Massive - 11-Nov-14 @ 6:08 PM
@Kat. Before yellow lines are painted the council is required to issues a Traffic Regulation (TRO) - this should set out the specifications and the reasons for the order. Take a look at the TRO and you should be able to find out why the lines have been painted. There do not appear to be any regulations governing the positioning of yellow lines that we can find...but lots of factors will be taken into account (such as the proximitiy of the bend and the school etc).
TrafficSignsAndMeanings - 3-Sep-14 @ 10:24 AM
Hi! Hoping you can help! I live in an area near a school with no onsite parking and have historically parked outside my property on the road with no problems. The local authority have painted a yellow line outside my home and the property next door saying that the approach to the corner at the top of our road requires this - there has never been one there before! We are trying to establish if there is a recommend distance between a yellow line and a corner which allows parked vehicles to be overtaken in time for a driver to get back onto the correct side of the road before the corner is taken?! Can you help at all?
Kat - 2-Sep-14 @ 11:23 AM
In a local village (Brinsley, Nottinghamshire) there is a busy residential street with road markings I cannot define.On one side of the road with no houses there is a continuous White line at the side but on the other residential side of the road there is a White line again but wherever the kerb drops for drive entries the line is dotted, what does this mean, Thanks
Nick - 4-Sep-13 @ 8:26 AM
Why does the highway code not cover the use of colours painted on the road surface in particular red which most of us associate with danger?
sooty - 25-Sep-11 @ 7:26 PM
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