Confused by red lines on the road? – here’s what you need to know about the markings

Confused by red lines on the road? – here’s what you need to know about the markings
Confused by red lines on the road? – here’s what you need to know about the markings

Most drivers understand what single and double yellow lines mean on the road. But alongside these common markings, red lines are appearing more and more frequently in towns and cities.

The markings have been in use since the early 1990s but it is not immediately clear what makes them different from yellow lines and misunderstanding the rules could leave you facing a fine of up to £130.

To help understand the purposes and rules around red road markings, LeaseCar.uk has created a guide to them.

What are red lines for?

Red lines are similar in purpose to yellow line road markings – they restrict stopping and waiting on certain sections of road, including those know as “red routes” – but impose stricter limits.

First introduced in London in 1991, red routes are urban clearways that form a network of major roads which carry a significant amount of traffic, especially during rush hours.

Red routes are commonly roads with heavy traffic and often incorporate public transport routes (Photo: Shutterstock)
Red routes are commonly roads with heavy traffic and often incorporate public transport routes (Photo: Shutterstock)

The restrictions, indicated by single or double red lines prohibit vehicles from stopping, in a bid to prevent traffic jams or minimise congestion.

More have been added in recent years and can now be found in towns and cities such as Edinburgh. Luton, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham, Coventry and Newcastle, as well as around busy airports and hospitals.

What are the restrictions and fines?

Double red lines marked along the left of the inside lane indicate that no stopping, waiting or parking is permitted by any vehicles at any time, as outlined by accompanying signs.

A single red line denotes that no vehicle is allowed to stop during the hours of the route’s operation, which are displayed on roadside signage.

Roadside signage indicates red route enforcement times (Photo: Shutterstock)
Roadside signage indicates red route enforcement times (Photo: Shutterstock)

Unlike yellow line restrictions, these rules also ban quickly dropping off or picking up passengers and loading or unloading goods, and applies to vans and lorries as well as cars. Other regulations often apply on red routes too, including prohibition of U-turns and lane restrictions.

In London, the owner of a vehicle that is found to be involved in a contravention of the rules will be sent a Penalty Charge Notice of £130 to be paid within 28 days. Fines are generally of a similar amount around the country, though a discount often applies for early payment.

Exceptions

In general, red line restrictions apply along the full length of red routes but some exceptions do still apply.

Exceptions to the no stopping rule on red routes include when forced to do so by traffic, such as at a queue for a red light, and vehicles such as public transport and emergency services, in necessary locations.

Bays may also be marked in certain places for parking or temporary loading on red routes – signs are placed by them to indicate the times that they may be used and for how long.

Tim Alcock from LeaseCar.uk said more needed to be done to help motorists understand the regulations.

He said: “Despite having clear rules and objectives, the regulations and purpose of red routes hasn’t been adequately communicated to the public.

“We support the roll out of red routes, but believe drivers need to be made fully aware of the rules so they’re not caught out and hit in the pocket.”

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