What the different colour cat's eyes mean on motorways – and how they can stop you getting lost in the dark

CAT'S eyes or motorway studs are used in high-speed motorways all over the world.

But have you ever wondered why they are differently coloured? Here we explain what each colour means.

The colours of the reflective studs serve a genuine purpose – and can really help you out when visibility is poor on unlit sections or in heavy fog.

They've been around since the 1930s and the details of how they work are laid out in Rule 132 of the Highway Code.

There are five colours: red, green, blue, white and amber.

The most common lights you'll see will be the standard white as these mark the lanes or the middle of a road. On a regular three-lane wide motorway you'll see two rows of these.

Amber cat's eyes appear on the far side of the road to mark the central reservation – and to stop you mindlessly changing lane to the right.

By contrast, red lights denote the left edge of the road – before you hit barriers or drift onto the hard shoulder.

Green indicates a junction either joins or leaves a motorway, while blue is used for emergency services.

You will find white studs between the lanes of dual carriageways or motorways.


As well as the different colours, the raised studs also help give drivers an audible and sensory reminder not to drift out of their lane. Rumble strips are used alongside them to do the same.

Neil Greig, policy and research director at IAM RoadSmart, said: "Reflective road studs can be a lifesaver in fog and reduced visibility as they can give you vital extra information you might need to stay  in bad weather. Unfortunately the most common studs we see are the yellow ones sprinkled all along the many roadworks on our motorways and A-roads.

"They can change all the time so it’s important to stay alert and make sure you are following the right lane."

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