Box junctions: how they work and how to avoid a fine

Nick Francis

15 Dec 2021


There are multiple ways in which we, as drivers, can end up being fined, but one of the most common reasons is for the incorrect use of a box junction. In fact box junction fines are so common these days that they have been labelled ‘moneybox junctions’, as they generate so much cash for local authorities.

A lot of box junctions are monitored by cameras, and if you’re caught using them incorrectly you could face a penalty of up to £130.

The problem is, box junctions can be very confusing, and even with the best will in the world a driver can find themselves breaking the rules. Research done by the RAC found eight out of ten drivers say they struggle with box junctions, and the same survey discovered a third of drivers have found themselves stuck in a box junction due to a car in front failing to exit the junction quickly.

Here we explain all you need to know about box junctions so you can avoid a nasty fine.

What is a box junction and how to do I spot one?

Box junctions can be spotted by the yellow hatching on the ground, which looks like a series of boxes. You can see what a box junction looks like in our images. You are most likely to encounter one at crossroads where multiple roads merge, and they are often found at junctions which are controlled by traffic lights.

Ostensibly their purpose is to stop the middle part of the junction from becoming congested, and especially to stop cars becoming stranded in the middle of the junction when the traffic lights change and drivers on another road need to drive through the junction. Key thing to remember is, keep your eyes on the road markings, especially when at a junction.

What are the rules then?

This is the bit where people get caught out. The rule is, you can only enter the box junction (the part with yellow hatching) when your path into another road is clear. For example, if you are turning left at a junction, the car in front must have cleared the junction and be driving away, so there is room for you to join the road to the left fully.

In essence, you are not allowed to move into the box junction and get stuck waiting for the road to clear, so even if the lights go green, you cannot drive into the box junction unless you can definitely keep moving. However, if you are turning right and your path is blocked by oncoming traffic, or the car in front of you has stopped, you are allowed to stop in the box junction. Remember, only when turning right.

Here's what the Highway Code says about yellow box junctions:

"You MUST NOT enter the box until your exit road or lane is clear. However, you may enter the box and wait when you want to turn right, and are only stopped from doing so by oncoming traffic, or by other vehicles waiting to turn right."
The Highway Code, rule 174

What happens if I get caught in a box junction?

If you move into the box junction and stop because the traffic ahead has not cleared, you are most likely to be caught via a camera. Not all box junctions have cameras, but a lot do.

You’re then likely to receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) in the post in the following few weeks. In most places the charge is £70 but certain cities, including London, it’s as high as £130. Those costs are halved as long as you pay within 14 days, and driving in a box junction does not incur any points on your driving licence.

Common questions about yellow box junctions answered by the YesAuto team

Q: Do you get penalty points for stopping in a yellow box junction?

A: No, you don’t, but you can end up with a nasty fine. In London the fine can be as high as £130, but if you pay within 14 days it is halved to £65.

Q: When can you stop in a yellow box junction?

A: Only when turning right. If you are turning right out of the junction and there is a flow of traffic coming the other way you should wait for the traffic to clear before turning. You will not be fined for stopping when turning right and there is traffic coming towards you in the other lane. 

Q: How do I know if I have been caught in a yellow box junction?

A: Unfortunately you won’t know until you get a fine in the post, called a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). You should receive a PCN within 14 days of contravening the rules, after that you can probably relax. 

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Nick Francis

15 Dec 2021