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Road markings signal drivers when lane changes, passing allowed

Submitted Road markings in Minnesota signal various things to drivers. Solid white lines mark crosswalks, stop lines at intersections, parking stalls, and the edges of a roadway.

Question: I enjoy reading your column. I have been driving for a number of years but still get confused as to what all the white road markings mean. I know what the white dashes on a road/highway mean — OK to pass. But what do solid white lines mean, particularly if they are on a three-lane highway? Also, what do the intermittent white "bricks" mean? What do narrowly spaced white lines mean verses widely spaced white double lines. Thanks for your help!

Answer: White lines separate lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction.

• A white line with dashes indicates that drivers can change lanes in areas where this type of marking is present.

• A line of shorter and thicker white dashes indicates that the lane will end.

• A solid white line indicates that lane changes are discouraged. Solid white lines also mark crosswalks, stop lines at intersections, parking stalls, and the edges of a roadway.

• Double solid white lines indicate that lane changes are against the law.

• A solid white line with a bicycle insignia along the side of the road indicates an area designated for bicycle traffic only. Bicycles must travel in the same direction as adjacent traffic.

Yellow lines separate traffic moving in opposite directions.

• A solid yellow line indicates that passing is prohibited. Passing in a no-passing zone is illegal.

• A line composed of yellow dashes indicates that passing is allowed.

• A solid yellow line may appear on one side of the roadway, while a line composed of dashes appears on the other side. Drivers must obey the marking that is present in their lane of traffic.

• Two solid yellow lines, one in each lane of traffic, indicate that passing is prohibited in both directions. Drivers traveling in both directions are prohibited from crossing the double solid centerline in order to pass other vehicles.

Please obey the speed limits and passing zones. If the roadway is covered with snow, slow down and look for the no passing signs, and do your best to determine where the lanes are marked.

Susan Lunneborg
Susan Lunneborg is news editor of the West Central Tribune. She joined the staff in Willmar in 1999 and has been a newspaper journalist for more than 20 years. She can be reached directly at the email linked here, but for the most timely response, please send news releases to the Tribune's general news email:
(320) 235-1150