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Do Broken Yellow Lines on the Freeway Mean You Can Pass?

Posted on September 19, 2022 in

Unsafe passing is one of the most common causes of car accidents in Arizona. Passing another driver requires due diligence. The passing driver must make sure it is safe to perform the maneuver and use the proper signaling to pass. The driver must also wait until he or she is in a place where passing is permitted by law based on the painted lines on the road.

What Do the White and Yellow Lines Mean?

A tool used for controlling traffic and preventing car accidents is painting lines on the road. These painted lines create separate lanes to organize traffic and prevent collisions. They also have different meanings based on the color of the line and whether it is solid or broken. Every motor vehicle driver in Arizona has a responsibility to know what these painted lines mean and obey the rules they create.

According to the Arizona Driver License Manual, a double solid line or a solid dividing line means that a driver cannot pass other drivers. Solid lines mean a driver must stay in his or her own lane for safety reasons. They are typically used leading up to curves and hills, where drivers cannot see the road far enough ahead to be sure they can pass safely. Solid lines are also used on freeways to prevent passing in certain areas, such as where two lanes of traffic are merging or in the carpool (HOV) lane.

A broken or dotted yellow line means that passing is permitted, but that a driver should do so with proper care and caution. If a broken yellow line is next to a solid yellow line, it means that passing is only permitted for the lane closest to the broken yellow line. Double solid yellow lines mean passing is not permitted for drivers in either lane. Drivers cannot cross solid yellow lines unless they are turning left.

The color of the line is also important. Yellow lines separate two lanes of traffic going in opposite directions, while white lines separate multiple lanes of traffic going in the same direction. On a freeway, broken white lines can be crossed, meaning a driver can pass another driver in these areas (with caution). A solid white line marks the edge of the roadway or separates different lanes of traffic. It can only be crossed if a driver needs to move to the side of the road in an emergency.

How to Pass Safely on the Freeway

Broken yellow or white lines mean that you are free to pass on the freeway or another road in Arizona. However, you must do so with extreme caution. Passing is a dangerous maneuver that should always be done with care. Here are the proper steps to take when passing another driver:

  • When passing a vehicle that is traveling in the same direction, you must pass to the left. On a freeway, faster vehicles must always use the left-hand lane to pass slower-moving vehicles.
  • Use your turn signal in advance to show others on the freeway that you are about to change lanes. 
  • Check the destination lane to make sure it is clear. Then, move carefully into the other lane and pass the vehicle, only speeding up as much as is necessary to pass the car.
  • Use your rearview mirror and look over your shoulder to be sure that the lane is clear before you get back over in front of the vehicle.
  • Signal that you are changing lanes and return to the lane on the right as quickly and safely as possible.
  • You should only pass a vehicle on the right side if the other driver is turning left or if you are on an open freeway where two or more lanes of vehicles are moving in the same direction.

Even if you have broken yellow lines and the right to pass, you must do so safely and responsibly. Otherwise, the maneuver could cause a serious accident, such as a head-on collision with an oncoming driver in the opposite lane. If you get into a car accident involving passing, don’t admit fault. Contact a car accident attorney in Phoenix as soon as possible to discuss your rights and recovery options.