Tips & advice

Box junctions: what are the rules and the penalties for breaking them?

It’s easy to fall foul of box junction rules: here’s how they work and how to avoid being fined

Any mention of a box junction is normally met with a shudder by the average driver: they have a reputation among road users as methods of penny-pinching by cash-strapped authorities that are more interested in collecting fines than keeping roads safe.

This isn’t helped by the fact that box junctions aren’t that common, so unless you encounter them on a regular basis you might not know how to drive through them correctly. Being fined for an honest mistake can feel grossly unfair.

On the other hand, road planners will tell you that box junctions are a crucial tool for keeping busy roads moving at peak times, and that the penalties imposed on rule-breakers are there to deter drivers from selfishly blocking the road and adding to the traffic problems.

Irrespective of which view you take, understanding how box junctions work - they’re detailed in the Highway Code, after all - is very important indeed.

Box junctions: what are they?

A box junction is outlined by a perimeter containing intersecting yellow lines in a grid pattern. They are designed to prevent gridlock by keeping junctions in high-congestion areas clear, even at peak times.

They’re most commonly used at crossroads, T-junctions and occasionally roundabouts, and they’re often controlled by traffic lights. However they aren’t usually signposted, so you’ll need to pay careful attention to the road surface when you approach.

Box junctions can also be used outside fire and ambulance stations so that the emergency services always have clear access to the roads outside.

How do you use a box junction?

You can only enter a box junction when your exit road is clear: it really is that simple. Whether you need to turn left, right or drive straight on, if you’re prevented from doing so by traffic up ahead, you need to wait until there’s space for you to clear the box entirely without stopping.

The only exception to this rule is if you’re turning right and you’re prevented from taking your exit road by either oncoming traffic or by another vehicle that’s also waiting to turn right: in these instances, you are allowed to stop and wait in a box junction.

At box junctions controlled by lights, the rules still apply. So if the light goes green and there’s no space up ahead, you still need to wait.

Box junction penalties

Local authorities usually police their box junctions with cameras, with transgressors automatically hit with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). In most places the fine could be as much as £70, although in London - where box junctions are most common - the penalty stands at £130.

However, if paid within 14 days the fine is halved to £65. You won’t get any penalty points on your driving licence for incurring a PCN, however many times you’re caught out.

If you think a PCN has been issued incorrectly, you can usually appeal in writing or online.

Have you ever been unfairly fined for entering a box junction? Let us know in the comments...

Recommended

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Cheapest cars to insure in the UK 2021
Cheapest cars to insure - header
Car insurance

Cheapest cars to insure in the UK 2021

Looking for a car that’s cheap to insure? We’ve listed cars with the cheapest insurance group ratings on sale in the UK today
5 May 2021
UK Driving tests restart but learner drivers face long waits
Driving test

UK Driving tests restart but learner drivers face long waits

Learner drivers in the UK face a 17-week wait between booking and taking their practical driving test
22 Apr 2021
How much do driving lessons cost?
Driving lessons
First Cars

How much do driving lessons cost?

Your guide to the cost of driving lessons, and how much money you’ll need to pass your test and get your licence
22 Dec 2020

Most Popular

New Vauxhall Crossland Griffin arrives to boost SUV’s appeal
Vauxhall Crossland Griffin
Vauxhall Crossland

New Vauxhall Crossland Griffin arrives to boost SUV’s appeal

The new Vauxhall Crossland Griffin undercuts the SE on price, but adds more equipment
26 Jul 2021
New SsangYong X200 SUV previewed in teaser sketches
SsangYong X200
SsangYong

New SsangYong X200 SUV previewed in teaser sketches

New X200 SUV concept signifies radical new design direction for SsangYong
27 Jul 2021
New McLaren 765LT Spider redefines open-top performance
McLaren 765LT Spider - front action
McLaren 765LT

New McLaren 765LT Spider redefines open-top performance

The drop-top McLaren 765LT Spider takes just 2.8 seconds to sprint from 0-62mph, while it can reach 124mph from rest in 7.2 seconds
27 Jul 2021