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Road Markings: Everything You Need to Know

Road markings, the importance of which is often underestimated, play a vital role in the safety and organisation of road traffic, preventing road accidents.

These markings guide drivers, operate as lane dividers, section off danger zones, and even indicate speed limits, helping drivers comply with the Highway Code.

How are road markings classified? What do yellow road markings mean? Find out in this article.



What are Road Markings?

Road markings are visual signs painted on roads to guide and inform drivers.

These markings include lane dividers, zebra crossings, arrows, symbols, and letters, all of which aim to regulate traffic.


How Important are Road Markings to Safety?

In short, road markings play a crucial role in reducing traffic accidents as they promote:

  • Orientation, helping drivers understand lane layout, the direction of traffic, and road boundaries;
  • Traffic organisation, as they separate lanes and indicate where drivers should position their vehicles;
  • Speed regulation, using specific lines, such as those providing speed limits and distance markings;
  • Universal communication, as they are understood by drivers of different languages and cultures, contributing to safer traffic in areas of international traffic.


What Types of Road Markings are there in Portugal?

According to the Road Signage Regulation, road markings encompass:


  • Longitudinal Markings

Longitudinal markings are lines placed parallel to the central line of a road, including the central line, lane dividers, and lines used to mark the edge of a carriageway.

They are divided into:

  • Unbroken lines;
  • Broken lines;
  • Broken and unbroken lines;
  • Broken warning lines;
  • Reversible lane lines;
  • Broken acceleration or deceleration lines;
  • Broken and unbroken Lines (BUS).



  • Transverse Markings

Transverse road markings are placed perpendicular to the central line of the road. In some cases, they can be supplemented with words or symbols.

The following fall under this category of sign:

  • Stop lines;
  • Right-of-way lines and those with triangular signs (very common on roundabouts);
  • Bicycle crossings;
  • Pedestrian (zebra) crossings.


  • Parking and Stopping Markings

Parking and stopping regulatory markings guide drivers on whether they can stop or park in certain places and must be respected to avoid fines.

For example, yellow road markings prohibit stopping or parking at the edge of the carriageway or pavement, depending on their location and the road signs present.


  • Directional Road Signs

Arrows on signs are used to guide traffic near intersections or junctions.

When this road sign is seen on the road surface in lanes bordered by an unbroken line or two adjacent unbroken lines, drivers must drive in the direction – or one of the directions – indicated by the arrow(s).

Deviation arrows placed diagonally to the central line of the road and repeated indicate that it is convenient to switch into the lane indicated or require drivers to go in the direction indicated when accompanied by other types of signage.


  • Miscellaneous Markings and Lane Dividers

These provide instructions or repeat those given previously by other signs.

For example, unbroken yellow lines at an intersection or junction prohibit stopping in that location if there is any possibility that your vehicle will remain stationary in that location due to traffic, even if you have right of way or the traffic lights allow you to drive on.


  • Complementary Retroreflective Road Markings

These complement road markings and can be:

  • Markers (applied on the road surface to increase the visibility of markings at night or when visibility is reduced);
  • Reflective Marker Posts (placed on the ground or on safety equipment, allowing drivers to easily identify the edges of the carriageway at night or when visibility is reduced).


What do White Road Markings Indicate?

White road markings generally indicate that signs are permanent, except for stopping and parking regulatory markings, as is the case for road markings placed in the centre of intersections.


What do Yellow Road Markings Mean?

Yellow road markings are generally temporary in nature.


Are all Yellow Road Markings Temporary?

Not all of them. For example, a yellow road marking regulating stopping and parking in a certain location will be permanent in nature.



What are the Road Markings Between Lanes Called?

The markings between lanes and to separate areas on the roads are called lane dividers.


Can you Park Alongside Yellow Road Markings?

No, as yellow parking and stopping regulation markings do not allow parking except those that signal loading and unloading spaces.

You may, however, stop on a broken line.


Which Road Markings Prohibit Stopping?

Unbroken lines prohibit stopping.


Can you Drive over Road Markings Between Lanes?

If they are unbroken, you cannot drive over them; you may only cross broken lines.

Where there are broken and unbroken lines, you can only drive over them if you are on the side with the broken line.

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