Driving Lane Rules

by Lee Morgan

Following the rules of the road can keep drivers and passengers safe, as well as help drivers avoid needless traffic tickets and fines. Operating an automobile requires concentration and a thorough knowledge of traffic laws. Simply navigating through the lanes on roads, highways and interstates involves a basic knowledge of some of the fundamental rules of driving.

Lane Lines

Lines in different patterns and colors are painted to designate driving lanes. The lines are typically either white or yellow; each type of line has its own significance. White lines indicate traffic lanes that are traveling in the same direction, such as those found on the interstate or one-way streets. Solid white lines indicate single lanes of traffic going in one direction that are not to be crossed. Even if there are multiple lanes divided by solid white lines, it's against traffic rules to cross a solid line. Broken white lines indicate multiple lanes going in the same direction; cars are allowed to cross these lines and switch lanes when it's safe to do so. Yellow lines divide roads with traffic flow in both directions. A solid double yellow line divides two directions of traffic in areas where it's not safe to pass other vehicles. A single broken yellow line means that, using proper precautions, cars may pass one another by moving into the oncoming lane and quickly maneuvering around the car they're passing. If one line is solid and the other is broken, passing is only allowed on the side of the road where the broken line is painted.

Changing Lanes

Changing lanes is legal as long as the driver waits until it's safe to do so and uses a turn signal to indicate his intentions. As a general rule, a driver should use all available mirrors to check traffic before making a lane change; he should also physically glance over his shoulder to check any potential blind spots before making his move.

HOV Lanes

High-occupancy vehicle lanes, also known as HOV lanes, are designed to encourage carpooling during rush-hour traffic. Using these lanes between specified hours is permitted only when there are two or more people in a vehicle. These lanes typically prohibit commercial vehicle use during rush hour and may only be used by single-passenger cars during nonpeak driving times. In some states, such as California, cars with "clean" fuel plates can use HOV lanes. These plates usually require the use of alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles.

Center Turning Lanes

Center left-turn lanes, two-way lanes designated by four yellow lines, appear in the middle of roads. The lines marking the outside of the lane are solid yellow lines; broken yellow lines are located just inside of the solid lines. Traffic laws allow for left turns from these lanes when traffic permits; in areas that allow U-turns, these lanes should be used to start the turn. These lanes are not intended for regular driving or passing and generally shouldn't be traveled in for more than 200 feet.

About the Author

Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.

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