By Lauren Ferrone
Published: Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Straight, broken, yellow, white, bumpy – road lines come in all different patterns, colours and textures. Each has its place, and some may even save your life. Here are just 7 road markings to familiarise yourself with.
1. The continuous line
Also known as the solid white line, the continuous line gives a stern warning to motorists: stay in your lane. But there are some exceptions to the rule.
When you can cross: Is there a broken-down vehicle or a fallen tree on the road ahead? Avoiding an obstruction is just one situation when you’re permitted to cross a single line, if it’s safe.
You can cross a single continuous line when entering or leaving a road, to enter a service road or emergency stopping lane, or to park in angle parking on the opposite side of the road provided a U-turn is not required.
Lastly, if space allows, motorists can cross a continuous line to manoeuvre around a cyclist to provide the safe passing distance. Just make sure you have a clear view of the road ahead and try to keep as far left as possible.
Driving over a continuous line is also legal when it’s paralleled by a broken line painted closest to the motorist.
When you can’t cross: Overtaking a vehicle moving at a snail’s pace isn’t reason enough to cross a continuous line. Missed a turn? Motorists are also prohibited from travelling over a solid line to make a U-turn.
Sometimes a continuous line is accompanied by a second solid line, bringing a double whammy of consequences should you ever cross it.
Put simply: a motorist should never cross double continuous lines unless manoeuvring around an obstruction or cyclist, and only if it can be done safely.
In South Australia, motorists are fined $405, a $60 Victims of Crime Levy and receive 2 demerit points if they’re caught crossing a continuous line unlawfully. Cross a double continuous line and you’ll face the same fine, but incur 3 demerit points.
2. The broken line
Similar to the continuous line, the broken line separates sections of the road to ensure motorists stay in their lane. There is, however, a big difference between the two.
When you can cross: Provided it’s safe, and sufficient indication has been given to other road users, motorists can cross broken lines at any time after they have given way to all vehicles in the lane they wish to enter.
When you can’t cross: If a broken line is paralleled by a continuous line closest to the motorist, you mustn’t cross it. Ignore that rule and you could be fined $405, a $60 Victims of Crime Levy and receive 2 demerit points.
3. The painted island
Hanging out on an island might sound like fun, but not when you’re on the road. Represented by distinct painted hatch markings, traffic islands create a buffer of space between opposing lanes of traffic.
Some painted islands have continuous or broken lines around them. There can also be double continuous lines bordering the island. Each variation determines whether or not you can drive on the painted island.
When you can cross: Motorists can drive over a painted island surrounded by single continuous or broken lines to enter or leave a road, to enter a turning lane that begins immediately after the painted island, or to park in angle parking on the opposite side of the road, provided a U-turn is not required to access the park.
When you can’t cross: Motorists mustn’t drive on a painted island when entering slip lanes, freeways or other locations where a painted island separates traffic travelling in the same direction. You won’t receive any demerit points, but you could be fined $271 and a $60 Victims of Crime Levy.
Where an island is surrounded by 2 parallel continuous lines, a motorist is prohibited from driving onto the island except to avoid an obstruction, and only if it’s safe.
4. The yellow edge line
One of the biggest differences between the edge line on the kerb and others is its colour. Yellow edge lines do, however, share some similarities to white lines. They come in both continuous and broken patterns.
When you can stop: Stopping on a yellow edge line – broken or unbroken – is allowed in circumstances such as medical emergencies, vehicle breakdowns or if you’ve been pulled over by police.
The driver may be required to prove that one of these things have occurred. Buses and taxis can also stop along broken yellow lines if they’re picking up or dropping off passengers.
When you can’t stop: Can’t find a park? Keep moving. Stopping on or over a continuous yellow edge line – even just for a few seconds – will land you a $102 fine and a $60 Victims of Crime Levy.
A broken yellow line indicates the area has parking restrictions, such as a clearway. Drivers need to check for signs.
Stopping on the edge of a road between the hours signposted is prohibited. You’ll be fined $280 and a $60 Victims of Crime Levy for ignoring the clearway rule if it applies.
5. Bus and bicycle lines
In South Australia, bus lanes are represented by white continuous lines, whereas bus only lanes – which prohibit motorists and cyclists from travelling in them – are marked with red lane lines or are painted red and have the words ‘bus only’ in white letters. Bicycle lanes are generally solid white lines, with lanes coloured green so they stand out.
When you can cross: Buses, cyclists and taxi drivers can travel in bus lanes during signposted times. If no times are specified, they can travel in them at all times.
Other motorists can, however, drive in a bus lane for up to 100m when entering or leaving a road, overtaking a vehicle turning right or making a U-turn from the centre of a road and, lastly, avoiding an obstruction.
While bicycle lanes are for the exclusive use of cyclists, there are also some exceptions to the rule.
Motorists, including motorbike riders, can travel in bicycle lanes for up to 50m when entering or leaving a road, overtaking a vehicle turning right or making a U-turn from the centre of a road, or avoiding an obstruction. However, in each case, motorists must indicate their intention ahead of time and give way to cyclists at all times.
When you can’t cross: While a bus lane is in operation, motorists mustn’t stop or park a vehicle in a bus lane during the signposted times. Red bus only lanes have stricter rules than ordinary bus lanes.
Both motorists and cyclists are prohibited from travelling in these lanes at all times, except to avoid an obstruction.
The maximum penalty for travelling in a red bus only lane will set you back a $273 fine and a $60 Victims of Crime Levy.
Remember: only a public bus or emergency vehicle can travel in a bus only lane. Motorists can’t stop or park in a bicycle lane during hours of operation.
6. Stop and give way lines
Stop and give way lines are self-explanatory. Stop as near as practicable to the line, even if there are no signs. These lines, which you’ll usually find down suburban side streets, have the same meaning and authority as stop and give way signs.
When you can cross: Motorists can only move past stop or give way lines once they’ve checked every direction and given way to approaching traffic, including pedestrians and cyclists.
When you can’t cross: Where there’s a stop line, a vehicle mustn’t proceed ahead until its wheels have come to a complete stop and all give way requirements have been met. Ignore this rule at an intersection and you’ll be fined $449, a $60 Victims of Crime Levy and receive 3 demerit points.
7. The audible edge line
Feel that? It wasn’t a pothole, but an audible edge line – a line you can hear. But what exactly is it saying? ‘Move back in your lane’, that’s what.
Also known as audio-tactile line marking, audible edge lines – usually painted on the edge of regional roads, like parts of the Dukes Hwy – have small raised white bumps.
When a vehicle’s tyres hit these bumps, the driver is alerted through sound or vibration that they’re veering out of a lane and onto the edge of the road.
When you can cross: Audible lines are considered the same as ordinary edge lines. Motorists who drive on or over these bumpy lines are committing an offence and can be fined $109 and a $60 Victims of Crime Levy.
Cross an edge line within 100m of an average speed camera and the penalty increases to a whopping $966 and a $60 Victims of Crime Levy. Why? Some drivers test their luck by crossing the edge line hoping to get out of the camera’s sight.
The general rule of thumb is simple: accidentally crossing any edge line – audible or ordinary – is usually a sign that a motorist is drowsy or not paying attention, so pull over and rest.