Switching enforcement powers for yellow-box junctions to local authorities might lead to the unfair issuing of penalty charge notices

Warnings are being issued to motorists about a change to to ‘yellow box junction’ rules. Getting stuck in a yellow box junction is something most drivers should know to avoid, however, research shows the majority of motorists are concerned about getting trapped in the box through no fault of their own.

The yellow box junction was created to prevent congestion on usually busy roads and to keep traffic flowing safely. Despite the country being mid-pandemic, in 2020, the Transport for London (TfL) issued 76,977 fines for ‘yellow box junction’ incidents.

Other councils in England will soon be able to dish out fees for ‘misusing’ a yellow box. The Government will give councils that apply for powers the right to issue penalty charge notices from June 1.

Motorists are not allowed to stop in them and those caught (usually through traffic cameras) can already be fined in some areas. Rules can be found in the Highway Code Rule 174.

It states: “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. At signalled roundabouts, you must not enter the box unless you can cross over it completely without stopping.”

It might seem straightforward, but in practice, motorists can encounter several problems that could leave them trapped in the box. For example, temporary roadworks/lights, random large vehicles in the way, stationary cars and errant pedestrians can all lead to drivers innocently finding themselves stuck in the box and receiving a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

But what are the rules around yellow box junction infringements, and what can you do if you are unhappy with the penalty or want to dispute it – if you live in an area where fines are already issued?

Where are yellow box junctions enforced at the moment?

Yellow box junctions fall under the broader definition of ‘moving traffic restrictions’, which also include no U-turns, left-turn only and other contraventions that arise from road signs instructing you to drive in a specific way or direction. Only TfL in London and local authorities in Wales have the power to enforce moving traffic restrictions. However, in England (outside London), the Government is set to give local authorities the power to enforce from this year.

What do you need to challenge a PCN?

Firstly, the key issue is ‘what can you reasonably expect to have known or seen when driving into the yellow junction box?’ It often comes down to what you can see before driving into the junction.

Drivers can speak to other motorists online, through various forums, and highlight the issue which could evidence whether the problem is affecting other drivers. Motorists may also need dashcam footage to support their case.

How and where can I appeal?

Drivers must first challenge the PCN directly with the authority that issued it. Instructions will be included with the PCN for how to ‘make representations’ to the authority.

If the authority rejects your challenge, you will then be able to appeal to an independent adjudicator. For Wales, and soon to be England (outside London), the adjudicator for moving traffic restrictions is the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.

Adapted from an original article by rac.co.uk