Double Solid Yellow Lines

Double Solid Yellow LineCould you talk about the rule about not crossing a double line when driving? A friend and I were talking about this and she thought there had been an update on this rule, that you were allowed to cross a double line under certain circumstances, though she could not remember what the circumstances were.

The rules regarding double solid yellow lines on British Columbia highways have not changed. They require that a driver remain to the right of them at all times. Technically, this means that as soon as your left side tires stray onto the lines themselves, you have broken those rules. You are not even allowed to cross them in order to avoid an obstruction on the highway as you may with single lines or a combination of single and broken lines.

I have seen many ticket disputes for crossing a double solid line ranging from "I wasn't passing anyone" to "my car wasn't completely over the line." One gentleman even tried to explain that he was avoiding an article on the road by going around it to the left. Had he slowed down and gone around it on the right where there was room to pass by safely, he would have avoided joining all these people who were convicted by the traffic court justice.

There is only one exemption to the requirement to keep right and that is when a driver is entering or leaving a highway. The onus is on the driver making the turn to exercise “a very high degree of care” and to keep a “sharp lookout” when crossing a double solid line.

Reference Links:

RoadSense for Drivers, Chapter 3, Page 36 (PDF)
Section 155(1)(a) Motor Vehicle Act - Highway Lines
Section 156 Motor Vehicle Act - Suspension of Sections 151 and 155


Submitted by E-mail

I find this very interesting from the point of view that if there is any obstruction in a traffic lane that is bordered by a double solid line and a single solid line that the vehicle cannot be driven out of the lane. Although I can see the safety aspect of just driving by carelessly it does not allow for vehicles to proceed past the obstruction. Consider some of the highways in B.C. where there is no shoulder and the only way to pass an obstruction (broken down vehicle, fallen rocks on the road, etc.) is to cross the double solid line, each of those vehicles that does so is breaking the law. Traffic could end up backed up for miles (kilometers) until the obstruction is finally removed. The new section 40 of the MVA Regulations requires that a vehicle slow down and move over when approaching 'an official vehicle' displaying flashing red or blue lights. This now becomes a contradiction to the Motor Vehicle Act. I think that there should be a provision to allow crossing the double solid line to avoid a hazard on the road if the vehicle that has to cross the double solid line ascertains first that the move can be made in safety. This could prove to be a very interesting case in a court room.

Crossing Double Solid Lines

An interesting point.  How can one section of the MVA create a regulation that contradicts or creates an infraction against another section of the MVA?  If an official vehicle is far enough into the travelled lane, thereby creating an obstruction, how could traffic pass by without being in contradiction of the MVA?

Crossing double lines

I have gone over the motor vehicle act and have cut and pasted it here. It seems to say that you can cross the double line to avoid an obstruction, see 155 (2).

Highway lines
155 (1) Despite anything in this Part, if a highway is marked with

(a) a solid double line, the driver of a vehicle must drive it to the right of the line only,

(b) a double line consisting of a broken line and a solid line,

(i) the driver of a vehicle proceeding along the highway on the side of the broken line must drive the vehicle to the right of the double line, except when passing an overtaken vehicle, and

(ii) the driver of a vehicle proceeding along the highway on the side of the solid line must drive the vehicle to the right of the double line, except only when finishing the passing of an overtaken vehicle, and

(c) one single line, broken or solid, the driver of a vehicle must drive the vehicle to the right of the line, except only when passing an overtaken vehicle.

(2) Subsection (1) (b) (i) and (c) do not apply if a driver is avoiding an obstruction on the highway and first ascertains that the movement can be made with safety and without affecting the travel of any other vehicle.

It's Tough to Read These Sometimes....

If you look at the two situations spoken about, 155(1)(b) deals with a double line that consists of one broken line and one solid line. 155(1)(c) deals with a single line, either solid or broken. In order to cross the double solid line, the exemption would have to include 155(1)(a) and it does not.

The distinction is between a double line and a double solid line.

This rule is dumb

The broad definition of 'highway' in this case would mean that turning left across the yellow line (single or broken) in a mall parking lot is illegal seeing as a parking lot is part of the highway. There are many parking lots with single or broken yellow lines. Superstore, Brentwood mall, and many others are good examples.

I think most cops will not take into account this definition of a "highway" (most probably aren't even aware of it) and would only ticket you IF you were causing a large impediment in traffic. If you were to turn without obstructing traffic they wouldn't ticket you.

It's Not Only the Police

The courts also use these rules to decide liability after a collision, ticket or no ticket.

good point

You have a point.
But if the judge himself would turn left across a solid yellow or broken yellow within a store parking lot (like the rest of us 99.99% of the drivers), then he has no business using this law against the person. Since nobody is gonna only make right turns (this is the case in some lots if you follow the rules strictly) or going WAY out of their way to follow this rule, getting "WTF you doing?" comments from your passengers, is safe to say the judge does it too. You can't differentiate between doing this in a parking lot, vs doing it from Kingsway into a store parking lot since they are both part of the highway by law.

I hope the judge (or cop, if deciding to give a ticket) is not a hypocrite.

Turning over a double solid line

Regarding entering or leaving the highway over a double solid line, you can legally cross a double solid line to enter a service station or a store parking lot.  Under the Motor Vehicle Act, a service station and a store parking lot are each a single instance of a "highway".  When a driver crosses a double solid line on a street to enter a store parking lot, they are leaving one "highway" and entering another "highway".

From the Motor Vehicle Act:
 - every private place or passageway to which the public is a highway;
 - every road, street, lane or right of way designed or intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles is a highway;
 - if the driver of a vehicle is causing the vehicle to enter or leave a highway and the driver has ascertained that he or she might do so with  safety and does so without unreasonably affecting the travel of another vehicle they may cross a double solid line.

It looks like there may be a misinterpretation that a street and an adjacent service station/parking lot are a single highway, but they distinct instances under the definition given by the Motor Vehicle Act.  Drivers are leaving a highway when they make a left hand turn over a double solid line and therefore meet the requirements of a legal turn under the Act.

It appears that you are correct on this point...

The BC Court of Appeal case of Mills v Seifred deals with a situation exactly as described above. There is no mention that the turn cannot be done, but when done must be done with significant care on the part of the turning driver.

I have amended the article to conform to this.

Single solid yellow line vs. double solid yellow line

Residents along a rural road in Maple Ridge are having trouble with commuters regularly going 20-30+ km over the 50km speed limit. It is a popular road for joggers, cyclists and horse riders. Two horses over the years have been clipped by vehicles, injured and then put down. Wildlife is regularly mowed down. The road is two lanes, with a solid centre line. Only recently, two "No Passing" signs were added along this east/west road, just after 4-way stop intersections about 3 km apart. My question is....why hasn't the centre line been amended to two double lines? The distance between the two "No Passing" signs is quite a distance and I think that people just aren't aware they have been added. Drivers are likely still of the mind they can pass another vehicle. I adhere to the 50 km/hour rule along rural roads. I don't want to have to explain to any little kid why I killed Bambie. I appreciate my neighbourhood for the wildlife. I like to see horses and riders. However, by sticking to the speed limit, I am regularly passed by drivers who get frustrated by my perceived "pokiness". Is it possible to request the centre line be amended to a double line?


The sign is contrary to the line, not a good situation. I suggest a chat with Maple Ridge council if it is a road that is looked after by the municipality and the area office of the Ministry of Transportation if not.

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