Eight out of 10 of drivers struggle to avoid stopping in yellow box junctions, according to new research, with a further 46 per cent saying they have ‘blocked the box’ on occasion. 

Of the drivers who admitted to having broken box junction rules, 78 per cent blamed their infraction on the poor sequencing of traffic lights, with 32 per cent saying other rule-breakers forced them to break the rules themselves. One in five, meanwhile, considered box junctions to be poorly designed, while a 15 per cent said they were often used in the wrong locations.

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London and Cardiff are the only councils that currently have the power to issue penalty charge notices (PCNs) for minor road traffic offences, with police responsible in all other areas. Experts are concerned, however, that falling police officer numbers and the difficulty in catching perpetrators mean the number of penalties issued for box junction breaches around the country is minimal.

Over a third (36 per cent) of the almost 2,000 drivers responding to the survey said councils should be able to issue penalties for box junction offences, with the same proportion saying these powers should be limited to problematic junctions.

The research comes from the RAC, who also compiled a list of top five box junctions managed by Transport for London (TfL) for Penalty Charge Notices issued.

London’s top 5 box junctions by PCNs issued

Location

Number of PCNs issued

Wandsworth fire station exit on West Hill, SW18  16,707 
Homerton fire station exit on Homerton High Street   12,071
Hanger Lane / Ealing Village junction, W5   8,033 
Euston Road / Judd Street / Midland Road junction 5,595
Peckham High Street / Peckham bus station exit (east box)  5,432 

Penalties for stopping in a box junction stand at £130 in London (reduced to £65 if paid early), while data obtained by the RAC showed TfL issued of 123,071 box junction PCNs in the last financial year, up from 108,164 the year before.

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Commenting on the motoring organisation’s findings, RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “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.” 

Williams warned box junctions can “heighten stress for drivers as those at the front of traffic lights often feel pressured to move on as a result of impatient drivers behind”. While he added the RAC is “generally supportive of local authorities having the power to enforce yellow box junctions”, Williams voiced concerns that if councils were to receive this power, “cash-strapped authorities may see it as a lucrative revenue stream”, and drivers should receive a warning letter for their first offence to prevent this.

What do you think about the way box junctions are policed in the UK? Let us know in the comments…

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