When can you cross unbroken lines?

Melbourne rainforest road trip

You might have a licence as well as a squeaky clean driving record, but how well do you know the rules of the road? Australian drivers aren't short on road rules they need to remember, and when asked - most drivers rate their knowledge of the road as good, even excellent. Nevertheless, for many the sight of an unbroken double line means you're simply not allowed to cross it at any stage - but it appears this is simply not true.

To turn or not to turn?

A surprising number of motorists are under the impression that it's illegal to cross a continuous double or single line when driving off or onto a road. And if you're one of the people who believed you weren't able to cross an unbroken line while driving, you're certainly not alone.

The NSW Roads and Maritime Services state that drivers are allowed to cross a single or double line if the driver wants to enter or leave a property "by the shortest route". For example, it is legal to turn right over dividing lines when exiting a petrol station or shopping centre - unless there is a sign specifically stating you can't.

What's more

The only other circumstances in which NSW motorists can cross unbroken lines is to maintain the safe passing distance when overtaking a bicycle rider or to avoid an obstruction on the road. When passing a cyclist in a 60km/h or less speed zone, drivers must leave a one metre gap between their vehicle and the cyclist and a 1.5 metre gap when the speed limit is above 60km/h.

However, when it comes to deciding whether a road obstruction permits crossing double lines, the RMS states that 'drivers must consider if they have a clear view of oncoming traffic, if it is necessary and reasonable in all circumstances to cross the dividing line, and if it is safe to do so.'

So, if you need to get around a fallen tree, a crashed vehicle or a broken down car - crossing unbroken lines would be considered legal. But if you're just wanting to get around a slower moving vehicle, or a vehicle stopped in a line of a traffic, it is illegal to cross a set of unbroken lines. A fallen tree, crashed vehicle or a broken down car are considered legal obstructions, while a slower moving vehicle, or a vehicle stopped in a line of traffic aren't.

And finally

While different laws apply to U-turns, it's important to remember that drivers cannot make a U-turn across any of the following:

  • A single continuous dividing line
  • A single continuous dividing line to the left of a broken line or, 
  • Across two parallel continuous dividing lines.

And if you're caught illegally driving over a continuous dividing line, you could be up for two demerit points and a hefty $263 fine.

Discover the benefit of belonging

Members get discounts on fuel, transport, entertainment and more.