The Local Government Association has called on the
government to give local authorities additional powers to use cameras to catch
drivers who stop in yellow box junctions.
Currently, only local authorities in London and Cardiff are
able to enforce yellow box junctions with cameras and issue penalty charge
notices (PCNs), but many more councils in England and Wales would like to be
able to use cameras to enforce these often troublesome and controversial
junctions, it is claimed.
The RAC, which says it is “generally supportive of local
authorities having the power to enforce yellow box junctions”, argues that if
the government was to grant local authorities the same powers that were already
being used in London and Cardiff it was “highly likely” there would be a “massive
rise” in the number of drivers being issued penalty charge notices (PCNs).
The Local Government Association, however, has called for
cameras to be put into place nationally, arguing the police have largely ceased
to enforce moving traffic offences since legislation was introduced.
Cllr Martin Tett, transport spokesman for the Local
Government Association, said: “To reduce congestion, improve air quality, road
safety and quality of life in our towns and villages, the government needs to
consider extending councils’ powers to enforce moving traffic offences from
London to the rest of the country.
“Giving councils outside London the powers to enforce
offences such as banned turns and obstructing yellow box junctions, would help
unblock congestion hotspots that delay buses, lengthen journey times and reduce
pollution from stationary and slow-moving traffic.
“It would also help cyclists ride more safely and prevent
disruption by the small minority of rogue lorry drivers that incorrectly use
weight restricted roads through our towns and villages.”
The call came as new RAC research revealed that eight in 10
motorists struggled to get through yellow box junctions without stopping and
almost half (46%) admitted they sometimes got stuck in them accidentally.
Two-thirds of drivers (67%) said they found it difficult to
get through some yellow box junctions without stopping, while 13% said that was
the case for most they encountered. The same percentage (13%) however, believed
every yellow box junction was easy to negotiate without coming to a halt on the
Among those who claimed it was difficult to drive through a
yellow box junction without needing to stop, more than three-quarters (78%) thought
it was very often due to poor sequencing of traffic lights. A third (32%) blamed
their infringement on the fact so many other drivers broke the rules in that
way that it forced them to do the same. One in five (20%) said they were badly
designed and 15% believed they were often used in the wrong places.
Yellow box driving rules are normally enforced by police,
however declining officer numbers and the difficulty of catching offenders had
resulted in little or no enforcement, leading to calls for a roll-out of camera
enforcement elsewhere, said the RAC.
Asked whether councils across the country should be able to
issue PCNs to any driver that came to a standstill in one, more than a third
(36%) of drivers surveyed by the RAC thought it was a good idea that would help
prevent congestion at junctions. Another 36% agreed they ought to have the
power, but should limit enforcement only to problem junctions. A quarter (24%),
however, were adamant local authorities should not have those powers.
But a majority of the 1,990 drivers questioned in the RAC
survey would like to see a softer approach to enforcement if local authorities
were able to use cameras to issue PCNs, with nearly two-thirds saying a warning
letter should be sent in the first instance, followed by a fixed amount PCN for
A fifth (21%) thought there should be a lower penalty charge
for a first infringement, but a higher one for subsequent offences if caught again
within a 12-month period; and 13% claimed it should be a fixed amount PCN,
reduced for early payment, no matter how many times a driver was caught.
In separate data seen by the RAC, Transport for London (TfL)
issued a total of 123,071 PCNs in the last financial year for yellow box
contraventions - up from 108,164 the year before. The top location for yellow
box contraventions was the exit of the Wandsworth fire station on West Hill
where 16,707 PCNs were issued to drivers in the last financial year, followed
by the fire station exit on Homerton High Street where 12,071 were issued to
The top five locations on TfL roads for yellow box
contraventions between 1 April, 2017 to 31 March, 2018 were:
- Wandsworth fire station exit on West Hill,
- Homerton fire station exit on Homerton High
- Hanger Lane/Ealing Village junction, W5 8,033
- Euston Road/Judd Street/Midland Road
- Peckham High Street/Peckham bus station exit
(east box) 5,432
Under the Traffic Management Act 2004 local authorities in
England and Wales could be allowed to enforce ‘moving traffic’ contraventions
such as disregarding yellow box junction markings. Scotland, however, would
have to introduce new legislation as the country was not covered by the
Despite a recommendation from the House of Commons Transport
committee seven years ago for councils to be given these powers by 2013, the government
said in 2015 it had no plans to activate them.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “Our research shows
yellow box junctions are a very divisive issue with drivers. While the majority
are in favour of councils more widely being allowed to use cameras to catch
offenders, 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.
“Box junctions can also 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 who don’t realise they are being prevented from doing
so by the presence of yellow lines.
“The RAC is generally supportive of local authorities having
the power to enforce yellow box junctions because of the value of local
knowledge, but has concerns that it could lead to local authorities being
inconsistent in their application of road traffic law. There is also 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
“We therefore believe it is essential that every yellow box
junction where a camera is installed is comprehensively tested to ensure it is
easy to negotiate without stopping.”
A guide to yellow box
- Why do yellow box junctions exist? They are used
to keep traffic flowing by ensuring the road space is kept free for moving
vehicles coming from different directions
- How to drive in a yellow box junction? Drivers may
enter a yellow box junction when their exit from it is clear and there is
sufficient space on the other side for their vehicle to clear the box without
stopping; drivers may only stop in a yellow box junction if turning right and
are prevented from doing so by oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead are also
turning right; if the exit is not clear and drivers are not turning right then
no part of their vehicle should enter the yellow box; the principle and the
rules are the same for a yellow box junction on a roundabout
- Blocking a yellow box junction means that
everyone else gets blocked
- The rules around yellow box junctions are
covered by rule 174 of the Highway Code.