Can you park there? What different curb colors mean

SAN DIEGO (KSWB/KUSI) — You’re driving down a road, looking for a spot to park, when you see an open spot to pull in, but the curb is white. Can you park there?

Blue, yellow, white, red, green — these are the different curb colors you’ll come across while driving. Generally speaking, paint on a curb is used to signify drop-off spots, pick-up zones, and other parking rules, a guide created with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration explains.

The paint, considered cost-effective, is usually paired with signage, but if it isn’t here’s what to know about color-coded curbs.


Red curbs are no parking zones, which means no stopping, standing or parking at any time.

In some cities, property owners can ask for a red curb in front of their home as a residential driveway clearance zone, allowing space for the property owner or tenant to access the driveway safely with enough space.

No portion of the vehicle, including the bumper, can cover a red curb, and there is no parking anytime in these zones. You may, for example, see a curb in front of a fire hydrant painted red, as the image below shows, or to designate fire lanes.

Most curbside fire hydrants have no parking signs in front of them. (Getty)

These areas may also be considered tow-away zones. In Seattle, for example, “vehicles in a tow-away zone are subject to fines and immediate removal and impound.”


In most cases, a white or unpainted curb means parking is allowed. However, there may be signs giving more specific instructions for the region.

In San Diego, for example, a white curb designates a loading zone, where you can park for a short time while unloading things like passengers, mail or luggage. Some white curbs in Seattle are for police or fire department vehicles only.

There may be time limits for parking next to a white curb.

In Long Beach, California, drivers can only be in a white zone for two minutes, unless they are a taxi service. In Los Angeles, the time limit isfive minutes.

There is usually no long-term parking anytime in these zones, unless otherwise noted.


Yellow curbs are similar to white curbs, but they most often serve as commercial loading zones.

Only trucks and commercial vehicles are permitted to stop in these zones to load or unload materials, goods and merchandise. Parking may only be restricted in these zones during certain days and hours.

In San Diego, yellow curbs indicate commercial loading zones only between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., except on Sundays and holidays (unless otherwise posted), meaning you can park there during other hours.

Yellow may also be used to highlight the edge of a divider or a change in the roadway, according to the Federal Highway Administration. You can see that here:

A yellow-painted curb, seen at the left. (Getty)


A green curb marks a short-term parking zone. They are often in busy areas and allow for quicker parking turnover.

Parking restrictions in these zones can also vary by the day of the week and time of day. In San Diego, these areas serve as short-term parking (15 to 20 minutes) from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, unless otherwise posted. The time you’re allowed to remain in the zone can vary — in Fairfax, California, for example, drivers can be in a green zone for two hours.

Before parking in a green zone, be sure to check for signage regarding the restrictions in place.


Blue curbs are reserved for people with disabilities with a disabled person parking placard or plate. No one else can park at blue curbs.

These zones may also feature the symbol of accessibility seen below.

Empty parking spot within a parking lot with handicapped parking symbol. (Getty)

While curb colors and their meanings will largely be the same throughout the U.S., it’s important to check signs posted in the area before you park your vehicle and walk away.

Your city or town may also accept requests to add parking restrictions outside your home or business.

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