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Yellow Box Junctions Baffle Millions of UK Drivers

By Stephen Turvil | December 6, 2018

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Survey says 80% of motorists struggle to use yellow box junctions safely, legally, and correctly – but why?

Yellow Box Junctions Baffle Millions of UK Drivers

Purpose of yellow box junctions

Millions of motorists struggle to use yellow box junctions correctly yet back calls for councils to have new powers to penalise mistakes in the UK, the RAC’s survey suggests. Such junctions – used properly – ensure cars pass without blocking exits, impeding the flow of traffic and causing unnecessary delays.

How yellow box junctions work

A yellow box junction has a bright, criss-cross, pattern on the surface of the road that you cannot enter unless your exit is clear. Do not stop, in other words. The exception is if turning right and your exit is blocked by other such vehicles and/or oncoming traffic. It is then permissible to stop in the yellow box.

However, 67% of survey respondents ‘find it difficult to get through some yellow box junctions without stopping’. 13%, in contrast, say they have issues with ‘most’. That is 80% in total. Only 13% claim every box junction is ‘easy to negotiate’. The motorists that struggle cite a wide range of reasons. For instance:

  • Poor traffic light sequencing (78%) 
  • Forced to stop by other motorists (32%) 
  • Junctions badly designed (20%) 
  • Junctions installed at the wrong locations (15%) 

Calls to make it easier to punish offenders

Yellow Box Junctions Baffle Millions of UK Drivers Image 1

The Local Government Association wants to make it easier for councils to punish drivers that break yellow box rules. On this basis, it wants wider permitted use of camera systems that recognise such behaviour, identify offenders from their registration plates then automatically issue fixed penalty notices.

Only London and Cardiff councils currently have the power to use such systems. Those elsewhere rely on traffic officers to witness offences then intervene. However, the number of such officers on the street has diminished in recent years so resources are limited.

The Local Government Association’s Transport Spokesman, Martin Tett, suggests this status quo must change in order to minimise congestion, cut the associated pollution, and make the roads safer.

‘Councils are determined to ensure roads operate efficiently and safely’, Councillor Tett explains. However, he suggests, the current situation is not in the best interest of any road user. Most councils are ‘unable to enforce the rules of the road’ via cameras and the police ‘lack the resources’ to compensate, he adds.

Many people also favour more yellow box enforcement, the survey suggests. 36%, for example, say it is a ‘good idea’ for councils to issue fixed penalty notices via cameras. The same percentage say reserve enforcement for ‘problem junctions’ only. In contrast, 66% say motorists should only get a warning letter for a first offence.

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