Box junctions are part and parcel of urban motoring. We explain the rules, and the implications of breaking them
A box junction is a type of traffic-control measure consisting of a square or rectangular set yellow lines, criss-crossed with further diagonal yellow lines. They are typically found at busy junctions such as crossroads or T junctions, and are designed to ease traffic flow by preventing people from stopping in areas where they might block other road users.
We’ll cover the basic rules on how to use a box junction, as well as what the penalties are if these rules are disobeyed.
How to use a box junction
The Highway Code for box junctions states that you must not enter the box unless your exit path is clear. In effect, you are not allowed to stop in a box junction. The only exception to the rule is when you are turning right and are prevented from doing so by oncoming vehicles or other cars waiting to turn right as well.
If a box junction is located at a signalled roundabout, you may only enter the box if you are able to cross over it without stopping.
The aim in all cases is to keep the box junction clear so that you do not block traffic. Box junctions are also used in front of areas like fires stations, where an emergency may require a vehicle to exit or enter a building at short notice.
Will I be fined for breaking box junction rules?
Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of peak hour traffic you may find yourself getting stuck in a box junction, regardless of how it came about this is against the law, and you may be fined for doing so.
The law is changing regarding how box junction offences are fined. Up until recently, the police were responsible for issuing moving traffic violations, this includes box junctions. London and Cardiff were the only two places which allowed the councils themselves to issue a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).
In 2022, almost 300 councils throughout England will be able to apply for the right to issue penalties for box junction violations. The Department for Transport (DfT) is likely to approve these applications, so we can expect a lot more fines to be meted out.
Many box junctions have fixed cameras that monitor the road and in London, if you fall foul of the law you can be issued a penalty charge notice of £130, reduced to £65 if paid within 14 days. In other areas the penalty is £70 and the same 14 day rule applies.
If you do not pay within 28 days, you will be issued a charge certificate and given a further 14 days to pay the original fine plus 50%. If you still do not pay you will receive a court order to make payment. You won’t get penalty points on your license if you receive a PCN. You can also appeal a PCN if you feel that it has been issued unfairly.
Box junction FAQs
When may you enter a box junction?
You may only enter a box junction when the exit path ahead is clear, the only exception to this rule is if you are turning right and it is detailed below.
When may you wait in a box junction?
If you are turning right, then you may wait behind other vehicles that are also turning right or if oncoming traffic is temporarily blocking your exit path.
Can you turn right at a box junction?
Yes. Box junctions do not themselves preclude specific turns (though other road signs and rules may do so). You are allowed to enter a box junction if you intend to turn right and either oncoming traffic or other vehicles also wanting to turn right are blocking your way.
If this is at a junction with traffic lights, be sure to complete your right turn while the lights are still in your favour.
What if you get stuck in a box junction?
Sometimes you may find yourself getting stuck in a box junction despite your best intentions. If possible, try to move out of the way as soon as it is safe to do so.
Many motorists enter a box junction because they feel intimidated by other road users. It’s best to stay calm and obey the rules of the road – other drivers won’t pay for any fine you incur.
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