Attorney David J. King


Stay in your lane: What causes people to cross the center line?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2022 | Car Accidents

If you’re driving your vehicle on a two-way roadway, one of the things you have to watch out for is a head-on collision. A head-on collision could happen if you or another driver cross the center line while traveling and enter into the other person’s lane.

Why would you do this? There are all kinds of reasons that people cross the center line including:

  • Driving while impaired
  • Driving while distracted
  • Falling asleep behind the wheel
  • Rubbernecking
  • Trying to pass another driver

These and other reasons can lead to a vehicle crossing the center line and greatly increasing the risk of a head-on collision.

Crossing the center line legally

There are times when crossing the center line is legal. For example, if the center line is yellow and dotted on your side of the road, you should be able to legally pass other vehicles in front of you as long as you stay within the speed limit and watch for oncoming traffic. You’re expected to be back in your lane by the time other traffic approaches at a reasonable distance.

If the yellow line is just dotted and it’s only a single line, then either you or others on the other side of the road may pass when it’s safe to do so.

There are also times when it is illegal to cross the center line. For example, if the center line is made up of two solid yellow lines, you cannot cross it.  Double yellow lines indicate that the area is a no-passing zone.

If the yellow line is solid on your side but dotted on the other, the approaching drivers may pass, but you may not move out of your lane.

Knowing simple road rules could help you stay safer

Understanding what the yellow lines mean on the roadway can help you stay in lane when necessary or know when it’s safe to try to pass others. While you can’t always predict others’ behaviors, you have the opportunity to be safe yourself. Avoid driving while impaired, getting distracted or driving without enough sleep, and know the rules of the road to stay safe.