A Motorist’s Essential Guide To Basic Road Markings4 min. read
Basic road rules exist to keep the streets from devolving into chaos. Like traffic signs, road markings serve as a shorthand clue to the many regulations drivers should follow.
Gentle reminder, these road markings are not recommendations and following them is an absolute must if you want to make it safely to your destination.
If you don’t want to end up in a viral Facebook post as the stupid driver getting in an accident, you may want to refamiliarize yourself with the common road markings and what they mean for everyone. Unlike your silly stick family sticker on your windshield, these markings are useful and can save lives.
Probably the most important road marking of them all, solid white lines denote the edge of the road. You are prohibited from using the space beyond that. If you see a solid white line dividing the center of a two-way road, you cannot overtake beyond it unless it is absolutely safe, i.e. there is no vehicle approaching on sight. Double solid white lines at the center mean you cannot overtake beyond these but making a left turn is permitted.
Solid white horizontal lines indicate where a vehicle should make a full stop at an intersection or in the presence of a traffic light. A car coming to a stop must not go beyond these lines as what usually comes next is a zebra line crossing for pedestrians.
As a rule of thumb, broken white lines indicate a division between different lanes and motorists can cross these lines when overtaking or changing lanes. However, vehicles within these broken lines have the right of way so you must make sure the lane is clear first before making a switch. Merging broken white lines mean that the road is narrowing and some lanes are being combined, so keep an eye out.
Portions of the road filled with diagonal lines and enclosed in solid white lines are not passable to vehicles unless it is an emergency. These markings can usually be found in intersections and divergent roads.
If you see a zebra crossing, under no circumstances can you stop there. Remember, if your lane is on a red light, pedestrians take priority when using that part of the road. It’s a road violation and you can get flagged by a traffic constable for that.
You may find them irritating whenever you pass by one, but these closely placed and slightly elevated horizontal bars are a tactile reminder of road hazards like sharp turns or merging traffic. In the case of places like the North Luzon Expressway, rumble strips indicate that you are approaching their toll barriers and you should slow down.
Single, solid yellow lines are made easy to see for a reason: they mean passing is strictly prohibited, no matter how clear the opposite lane is. If they’re coupled with another line, then the one closest to your lane applies. For instance, if there is a solid yellow line nearer to your lane and white broken lines on the opposite, it means it is safe for them to pass but not for you. If the road is divided by double yellow lines, then both lanes are forbidden to overtake in any case.
On EDSA, solid yellow lines are for lanes provided for public buses. Some cities with bike lanes on the outermost lane of their roads also use solid yellow lines to give bikers a safe thoroughfare.
Typically found on EDSA, broken yellow lines denote that you can enter a bus lane. You can use this if you need to make a right to an oncoming street from EDSA.
Typically located in intersections, yellow boxes indicate that that portion of the road must be kept open at all times. This means you must stop at the white horizontal line that precedes the intersection. This even applies to times that you might have a green light but proceeding towards the intersection will make you obstruct the yellow box; if this is the case, you should wait for the other side of the road to have enough room first before crossing. This is meant to prevent clogging on the intersection.
In 2012, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) gave the growing number of motorcycle owners their much needed safe space on our major thoroughfares: motorcycle lanes. Like the signs that indicate where they are, the MMDA painted their lanes with blue lines to prevent them from switching to other lanes. Since they’re broken blue lines, cars can also switch to this lane if they have to but preferably, only motorcycles should use the said lane.
Arrows point you in the right direction, this goes the same with lane arrows. In case you don’t remember where to go, they will tell you where your lane must go.
Single-headed arrows tell you to just go straight ahead and that you cannot make a turn from where you currently are. Meanwhile, double-headed arrows indicate that you can do either action, and they’re present mostly on innermost and outermost lanes. Arrows shaped like a reverse U tell you that a U-turn slot is incoming.
The yield sign can be typically seen as you approach an intersection. Symbolized by an upside-down triangle, it means that oncoming drivers should give way to the intersecting traffic because they have right of way.