Single Track Roads

by marchilton85
a sign that says passing place, of a single track road by the mountain cul beag

Some roads in Scotland, especially in the Highlands and islands, are single track roads. A single track road or one-lane road is a road that permits two-way travel but is not wide enough in most places to allow vehicles to pass one another. To overcome this problem, many single track roads, especially those officially designated as such, are provided with passing places.

Use passing places to let faster moving vehicles overtake. This is vital and could save a life, many local doctors drive their own vehicle.

Along the length of the narrow sections every 200 meters or so, at appropriate places, there are small laybys for use when passing cars approach from the opposite direction where the road is wide enough to allow cars to pass each other. These passing places are marked with a white square or white diamond shaped signposts which can be on either side of the road and, in general, the car that is closest to a passing place pulls in, either into or opposite the passing place and waits for the oncoming car to pass. It is important for foreign drivers to remember that we drive on the left in Scotland, it’s easy to forget when there is only one lane!

a graphic showing how to use passing places on Single track roads

Single track roads

The Highway Code on Single Track Roads

Single-track roads. These roads are only wide enough for one vehicle. They have special passing places. If you see a vehicle coming towards you, or the driver behind wants to overtake, pull into a passing place on your left, or wait opposite a passing place on your right. Give way to vehicles coming uphill whenever you can. If necessary, reverse until you reach a passing place to let the other vehicle pass.

  • Use the passing places to let oncoming cars AND cars behind you to pass.
  • Don’t use the passing places for parking.
  • Always keep to the left when stopping at a passing place.
  • If the passing place is on your right, wait opposite keeping to the left.
  • Keep your speed down to safe levels.
  • Please understand that the person behind you may be travelling to a hospital appointment, to work or attending to someone in need.

If you do find yourself nose to nose with someone between passing places (and it does happen, even between attentive and considerate drivers), especially since the North Coast 500 has picked up, then the person who can most easily reverse to a passing place should do so. This usually means the person closest to a passing place should do the reversing: but gradient, type of vehicle, and number of vehicles that would have to reverse can be factors too. The obvious implication of this is that you should never drive a vehicle on any single track roads that you cannot readily reverse should the need arise.

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