Motorists are struggling to drive through yellow box junctions without stopping, with most blaming poor sequencing of traffic lights for the infringement.
Despite this, many local authorities are still seeking to introduce enforcement cameras to ‘spy’ on yellow box junctions and automatically process penalties.
8 in 10 drivers say they struggle to drive cleanly through yellow box junctions, according to research by the RAC. Nearly half admit to getting stuck in them accidentally, with 1 in 3 blaming other law-breaking motorists for their infringement.
Many are already being caught. Local authorities in London and Cardiff are allowed to use cameras to spy on yellow box junctions and issue penalty charge notices (PCNs).
Transport for London issued 123,071 PCNs in the last financial year. That’s up from 108,164 the year before.
Other authorities are now calling for London and Cardiff’s powers to be extended. The police are currently meant to enforce yellow box junctions – but fewer officers and the complexity of catching offenders means enforcement is often lax.
How to guide: Yellow box junctions
What is the point of a yellow box junction?
A box junction keeps traffic flowing by marking out an area of road space that’s to be kept clear at all times.
When can I drive into a yellow box junction?
You are only meant to enter a box junction if your exit is clear – in other words, if you can drive all the way through it without stopping.
Am I ever allowed to stop in a yellow box junction?
If you are turning right, you can stop in a box junction, if oncoming traffic prevents you from doing so – but only if your exit is clear.
Why do people get wound up about yellow box junctions?
Motorists get annoyed with box junction transgressors because everyone else gets blocked along with the offending driver – it is considered one of the more ‘selfish’ motoring offences.
I think I remember something about them from my driving test
Well remembered! Yellow box junctions are covered by rule 174 of the Highway Code.
Surprisingly, 1 in 3 motorists believe it’s a good idea for local councils to issue PCNs. However, if they were to do so, most say their approach should be softer.
Most drivers suggest a first offence should result in a warning letter, not a penalty. 1 in 5 would like to see first offenders get a lower penalty charge, but a higher one if they offend again within 12 months.
Watch: how to use a yellow box junction
RAC spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Our research shows yellow box junctions are a very divisive issue with drivers.
“There is a strong feeling that many junctions are not set up fairly which leads to drivers having no choice but stop in them, whether that’s due to poor traffic light sequencing, poor design or being used in the wrong place.
“If the Government was to grant local authorities the same powers that are already being used in London and Cardiff it’s highly likely we would see a massive rise in the number of drivers being issued penalty charge notices.”
The RAC adds that authorities should carefully analyse every box junction before installing a camera, to confirm it’s possible to drive through without stopping.
And while the organisation is generally supportive of local authorities gaining the power to police yellow box junctions, Williams says there “is a risk that cash-strapped authorities may see it as a lucrative revenue stream.
“To prevent this, we think warning letters for a first contravention would be appropriate”.