What Does the Striping Mean On Our Roadways?

Some people think all they need to know about the striping on the roads—also called road lines—is “to keep it between the mustard and the mayonnaise.” That is, between the yellow center line and the white line of the shoulder. However, the lines in the road give information and instructions on what drivers can and cannot do while driving, and every driver with a valid license is expected to know the rules of the road, including the meanings of the lines.

Law enforcement will not accept ignorance of the meaning behind the striping on our roadways. In fact, road lines and their meanings are part of the driver’s license test both for the multiple-choice test to get a driving permit and the on-the-road test to get the license itself. This shows the importance of these lines and reinforces the point that all drivers need to know what they mean.  Drivers who violate the rules of the road indicated by a road’s striping run the risk of being ticketed for a moving violation, which includes a fine and points on their license.

Brush up on your roadway striping knowledge, and make sure you understand what the “mustard and mayonnaise” are telling drivers:

A single, solid, white line: Delineates lanes on a road where the traffic is all going the same way, and it indicates you cannot change lanes; also, the line between the road and the shoulder.

Broken white line: Identifies lanes, and you may change lanes if it is safe to do so.

Two solid yellow lines: Delineates the center of the road on a two-way traffic road, and it indicates that you may not ever pass into the lane of oncoming traffic in order to pass the vehicle ahead of your vehicle.

Two broken yellow lines: Identifies the center of the road on a two-way traffic road, and it indicates that you may pass into the lane of oncoming traffic in order to pass the vehicle ahead of you as long as it is safe to do so.

One solid and one broken yellow line: Delineates the center of the road on a two-way traffic road, and it indicates that passing into the lane of oncoming traffic is only allowed on the side of traffic where the broken line is located.

A road’s striping is set to ensure that the road is as safe as possible based on its speed limit, traffic volume, and line-of-sight issues like curves and hills. It is important for every driver to follow the rules of the road so that everyone is safe while driving.