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Ask a Trooper: The rules behind white lines on a highway

Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

Question: What is the purpose of solid white lines, separating traffic moving in the same direction? Example: the ones leading up to the Lowry tunnel in Minneapolis. Does it make it illegal to change lanes?

Troy Christianson

Answer: Pavement markings direct and regulate traffic. While there are several different types, we will focus on white lines.

White lines separate lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction. A line composed of white dashes indicates that drivers can change lanes in areas where this type of marking is present.

A line of shorter and thicker white dashes indicates that the lane will end.

A solid white line indicates that lane changes are discouraged in areas where this type of marking is present. Solid white lines also mark crosswalks, stop lines at intersections, parking stalls and the edges of a roadway.

Double solid white lines indicate that lane changes are prohibited in areas where this type of marking is present.

A solid white line with a bicycle insignia along the side of the road indicates an area is designated for bicycle traffic only. Bicycles must travel in the same direction as adjacent traffic.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848.  (Or reach him at, Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us)

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.