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Traffic Talk: Solid lines painted on roads have a purpose

Don Gammill: Passing may be hazardous when the solid white line is present on a road.
DON GAMMILL Published: April 1, 2013

If you've driven over a roadway where heavy construction is under way or there is a need for more work space for the crews, you probably noticed solid white lines.

There is a reason. The situation can be very dangerous.

Here are two recent examples you might have seen in the Oklahoma City metro area.

There are solid white lines painted on some areas of the under-construction Kilpatrick Turnpike, and Broadway Extension below it. Every day, I see drivers changing lanes over solid white lines — areas where it would be safer if they did not change lanes because the lanes have been narrowed or otherwise made dangerous while under construction. I was certain my driver's education class (in 1976 using the Oklahoma Driver's Manual) taught that drivers are not supposed to change lanes when the lanes are separated by a solid white line. Did I misunderstand? Did the drivers who do this: a) misunderstand what they were taught; b) never learn that rule; or c) simply disobey that rule?


I don't believe you misunderstood, Phyllis. As I recall, that's how my instructor taught us. His basic instruction was that if it was solid, any color, you didn't cross the line.

But, here is what the Oklahoma Driver's Manual says about the solid white lines: “Traffic moves in the same direction on each side of the line, but passing is hazardous, as when you're approaching an intersection or merge area.”

In other words, you can pass, but be careful.

When projects such as those you mention are under way, particularly when they begin, it's often much safer not to change lanes because of the width of the lanes, as well as many people not being familiar with the roadway.

Under the Kilpatrick on the Extension, the traffic shifted a bit as crews worked on the bridge overhead and below. The shift was needed to give the crews the space needed for their equipment.

In another area ...

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