Correct Lane Positioning

The purpose of road markings is to manage traffic flow and guide drivers on where to drive, turn, and may indicate where we expect drivers to go slower.

So many drivers get it wrong. Let us start by clarifying the different type of lanes. There is the normal traffic lane, which may vary in width from 3.5 meters on most State Highways and regional arterial roads to about 2.5 meters on urban streets. As lanes get narrower, speeds usually go down. Then there are special vehicle lanes like cycle, bus, taxi, and transit lanes. The last three are usually only found in metropolitan areas. Cycle lanes are about 1.5 meter wide.

Now where should you be driving in these lanes - in the middle, left or right? When you are on a road with opposing traffic, it is best to keep away from the right side of your lane, just in case an approaching driver veers over into your lane. Keeping too far left will cause you to hit those raised tactile markers (rumble strips) and may leave you with limited space in which to manoeuvre when you move too far to the left. Avoid hugging the centre line or the edge line, but drive closer to the left than the right.

In 50 km/h areas, lane widths are usually around 2.75 meters. The majority of cars and Utes are less than 1.7 meters wide, so there is still heaps of space. In town where there are more activities like car doors opening, cars pulling out of driveways/ parking spaces, pedestrians, cyclists, and so on, the safest position is more to the centre of your lane. Stay out of cycle lanes and give cyclists space. By law you are only allowed to cross a cycle lane when you are about to turn left into a driveway or onto a side road. Give way to cyclists riding in the cycle lane when you want to turn.

Cutting across white lines through bends does not show you are a good driver as you are not on the Bathurst racetrack. Remember there is a reason why the line markings go wide at bends. It is to indicate there may be parked vehicles around the bend or to make it easier for drivers whom have to get out from driveways that are close to bends with very limited view of traffic.

Whenever you approach a lane that may seem to be very narrow, slow down. You will find it easier to get through.

Safer Journeys!

Daniel Naudé

Road Safety Coordinator