Hatched Road Markings – What Do They Mean?

Don L. Gates 4

Modern roads seem to have more and more markings, and they seem to be in an increasingly large range of colours. But what do the ‘hatched’ road markings mean?

Hatched markings are an area of stripes painted across the road, usually painted in white. Their function is to separate streams of traffic; particularly those approaching from opposite directions. In places where a traffic island would not be appropriate, the hatched markings act as a virtual island to keep drivers apart.

Can You Drive Through Hatched Markings?

It depends on the design. Where an area of hatched marking has a solid white border, then no; you MUST not drive into the area unless this is unavoidable in an emergency situation. When the border is broken however, then you should avoid this area, though you may drive through the markings providing you can see that is it safe to do so. But when would this be an advantage?

Areas of hatched markings are often used to protect drivers who are waiting to turn right at a busy crossroads. There will be an area of diagonal lines followed by a designated right turn area, usually marked with a right turn arrow. In this situation, it makes sense to drive through the lines if it means you can take up your position to turn right and in so doing you avoid causing following traffic to needlessly slow down.

Similarly, if there are drivers queuing to go straight on at a junction; you need not necessarily wait behind them. You can go through the hatched lines to take up your right turn position providing you can see that it’s safe to do so.

Can You Overtake on Hatched Markings?

Yes you can; providing the line around them is broken, and you have a clear view of the road ahead. Under no circumstances should you enter the markings to overtake however, if you are not 100% certain what lies ahead.

What do hatched markings mean when the middle is coloured red? Their meaning is just the same. The red area is to increase your awareness of the potential for danger, or it may just be a textured ‘anti-skid’ surface. But providing the border is broken and you are sure it is safe, then you can drive through them to overtake.

4 thoughts on “Hatched Road Markings – What Do They Mean?

  1. I love your explanations!
    Do you have some information on Meeting and Clearance, I’m finding this hard. Also do you have any tips on how to practice looking and planning. I feel so jumbled as to what I should be noticing I end up missing stuff!

    1. Hi Terrie, thanks for your kind comments. I’m currently working on a new book ‘Learning to Drive – Practical skills from starting the engine to motorway driving.’ This is aimed at learner drivers who need a point of reference to back up their practical lessons. It’s still a work in progress but I’ve included some excerpts for meeting and clearance onto the website at https://www.ukdrivingskills.co.uk/learning-to-drive/adequate-clearance-meeting-traffic/

      With regard to practising planning, here’s another excerpt from the book:

      You can practise this when you’re a passenger in someone else car, or even on a bus if you have a clear view of the road ahead. Instead of watching the world go by or spending time glued to your mobile, look as far ahead as you can, look for potential hazards at the sides of the road and try to work what you think is going to happen, what will other people do, how will the driver react, and what do you think you would prepare for if you were behind the wheel? If you’re a regular passenger in car you could also maybe fit an extra rear view mirror to get a sense of how following traffic is also affected by your driver’s actions.

      Hope you find this useful
      Regards
      Don

  2. I went into hatched road marking with broken lines to turn right, overtaking queing traffic after checking it was clearly safe to do so. I caused no interferance to oncoming traffic but stand accused of dangerous driving by the bus company i work for. This manouvre is done by all my colleagues at busy times and on the cctv from my bus which was used as “evidence” it clearly shows my driving was safe, my union dispute managements veiw, where do i stand?

    1. Road traffic law (as with all law) is complex and open to interpretation. In your particular case I wasn’t there to witness your driving so I can’t say whether what you did at the time was correct or not. On this subject the Highway Code states ‘If the area is bordered by a broken white line, you should not enter the area unless it is necessary and you can see that it is safe to do so.’ If the border in this case was broken and it was definitely safe, then it may be that someone at your company is misinterpreting the rules. I would suggest that you and your union take legal advice from someone who specialises in this area.

      Regards
      Don

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