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Drivers being fined unfairly at many yellow box junctions

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Some 90% of yellow box junctions on the TFL road network that London councils want to enforce were found to have issues that could lead to drivers being fined unfairly.

RAC said it had commissioned the chartered engineer Sam Wright, who runs the website Yellow Box Guru, to write a report on best practices for enforcing the rules on the areas, marked in yellow and intended to prevent the cross- or through-traffic from being blocked, leading to potential gridlock.

Wright said: “Many of the boxes have been around for years, perhaps decades. It appears that many authorities have simply assumed that the boxes already on the ground are suitable for enforcement without carrying out a fresh assessment as is recommended in government guidance.”

Too hard to see

As a result, the RAC found that 61 of the 111 boxes that 27 councils aim to enforce directly contravened the current government guidance, sometimes in more than one way.

Forty posed visibility issues; 16 were on the side of the road opposite T-junctions (which the Department for Transport has said serves ‘no useful purpose’; 18 extended beyond junctions; and nine were in non-permitted locations, the RAC asserts. (Those nine are said to include yellow boxes at roundabouts and gyratories without traffic lights and outside a private car park.)

When it comes to visibility, the motoring organization said drivers need to be able to see where the box begins and ends if they are to comply with the rule to only enter the box if the exit is clear. To fine a driver who entered a box where visibility was obscured would be unfair, RAC said.

Oversized areas

The RAC report found that 81% of the boxes it examined were needlessly large and 36% had visibility problems including being so faded that drivers can’t realize they exist.

Wright said: “I haven’t seen a single proposal that reviews the visibility of the box from a driver’s point of view. If you also factor in bad weather, poor light and other vehicles, then the poor visibility situation is exacerbated. This is all very concerning, especially as enforcement is carried out via cameras high in the air.”

Drivers fined ‘through no fault of their own’

Simon Williams, RAC roads spokesman, said: “Fining people can have real financial consequences for those on the receiving end. Enforcing yellow boxes means that the driver of a vehicle overhanging a box by any amount for just a moment can get a ticket. Yet many drivers end up stopped or trapped in these junctions through no fault of their own. It is not only imperative, but a moral duty to ensure that fines are fair, justified and that the appeals’ process is consistent across the country.

“And in some cases, we believe enforcement may end up actually increasing congestion as a result of drivers hesitating before moving on for fear of being fined.’

Williams and the RAC urged the Government to review of its yellow box junction guidance to clarify what is, or isn’t, enforceable.

Williams added: “It’s vital that size and visibility issues are resolved once and for all. Councils should then be ordered to carry out audits of all the junctions they propose to enforce, including from the driver’s perspective. And, if adjudicators find councils have wrongly enforced junctions, they must be obliged to refund any fines issued and correct the junctions in question.”