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Roadway Striping

Pavement markings are painted centerlines, edge lines, crosswalks and special messages. Markings have definite and important functions in traffic control. Sometimes they supplement the regulations or warnings of other traffic control devices. Used alone they can produce results that other devices can't, effectively designating a lane, locating the road center, and locating a stopping point, information that could not otherwise be made understandable. Pavement markings have limitations. They are obliterated by snow, may not be clearly visible when wet, and may not be very durable under heavy traffic. It may be necessary to repaint them every year, or more often. Despite these limitations, pavement markings are still used because of their unique advantage: they convey information to drivers without diverting their attention from the road.

General Principles

All pavement markings should conform to several general principles:
  • Yellow lines separate traffic flowing in opposite directions or mark the left edge of the pavement on one-way roadways.
  • White lines separate traffic flowing in the same direction or mark the right edge of the pavement.
  • Line width indicates the degree of emphasis. Normal center lines and edge lines are four inches wide. A wide line is at least twice the width of a normal line.
  • Double lines, two normal width lines separated by a discernible space, indicate maximum restrictions.
  • A broken line is formed by segments and gaps, usually in the ratio of one to three. A recommended standard on rural roads is ten foot segments followed by 30 foot gaps.
  • The MUTCD does NOT allow the use of a single yellow or white centerline on a two-lane two-way roadway. It does, however, have minimum thresholds under which a centerline may not be needed.
  • When resurfacing a road which has an existing centerline, a centerline should be provided on the new surface to reduce possible liability, since people have become accustomed to and expect a centerline.
  • When a centerline is used, all no passing zones must be marked with a double line of two normal solid yellow lines.
  • The MUTCD and/or traffic engineering personnel should be consulted regarding the markings of passing and no-passing zones.
Pavement Edge Lines
  • Particularly useful during bad weather and poor visibility conditions.
  • Break edge lines for intersections, but do not break them for driveways.
  • Solid white line for right hand edge. Solid yellow line for left edge of a one-way roadway, divided street or highway.
Stop Lines
  • Solid white lines normally 12 to 24 inches wide.
  • Stop lines emphasize the stop condition and indicate where to stop.
  • Should ordinarily be placed 4 feet in advance of and parallel to the nearest crosswalk line. In the absence of a marked crosswalk, the stop line should be placed at the desired stopping point, in no case more than 30 feet or less than 4 feet from the nearest edge of the intersecting roadway.
  • Should be placed in line with the STOP sign. However, if the sign can not be placed exactly where vehicles are expected to stop, the stop line should be placed at the stopping point.
  • On roads where traffic is not controlled by signals or stop signs, crosswalk markings warn the motorist of a pedestrian crossing point.
  • On controlled intersections, crosswalk markings primarily guide pedestrians in the proper paths.
  • Do NOT use crosswalk markings indiscriminately. Only an engineering study should recommend installing crosswalks where there are no traffic signals or stop signs.
  • Crosswalk lines shall be:
    • Two parallel solid white lines spaced not less than six feet apart.
    • Solid white lines shall be a minimum of 6 inches wide and may be up to 24 inches wide in certain circumstances.
    • Crosswalk lines on both sides should be extended the entire width of the pavement.
  • For added visibility, the area inside the crosswalk may be marked with white diagonal lines at a 45 degree angle or with white longitudinal lines at a 90 degree angle to the edge lines of the crosswalk. These lines should be about 12 to 24 inches wide and spaced 12 to 24 inches apart.
  • When diagonal lines are used to mark a crosswalk, the transverse lines may be omitted. This type of "piano key" design is intended for use where many pedestrians cross without any other type of traffic control device.
  • Non-conforming designs and colors should be avoided.
  • Advance crossing signs should be used when the crosswalk is not obvious or in high traffic volume situations, to alert drivers of unexpected pedestrian entries into the crosswalk.


This page last updated on 1/9/13