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Box Junction Rules: Everything You Need To Know
Like them or loathe them, box junctions are an integral part of the road systems around the UK, so if you want to drive here, you need to know how to negotiate them safely. There are specific rules about when you can and can’t enter a box junction and getting it wrong can cause problems both for you and for other drivers.
Here we look at what you need to think about when approaching those dreaded yellow boxes, so that you know what’s expected of you. So don’t be confused or worried about box junctions, because we’re here to help demystify things for you.
What Exactly Is a Box Junction?
You’ll recognise a box junction by the appropriately-shaped yellow box markings on the road. Inside the box, you’ll see yellow criss-cross markings filling the square. They’re most often found in busy parts of towns and cities and the basic thing to remember is that it’s an area that should be kept clear at all times.
Most junctions are also controlled by traffic lights and they’re created to ensure that whenever you’re driving through heavy traffic, the junction in question doesn’t become gridlocked by stationary vehicles. They’re basically designed to keep everyone moving.
It’s Important that Your Exit is Clear
Essentially, you’re not meant to stop in a box junction, meaning that when you come to it, you need to be sure that your exit is clear of traffic. If you’re intending to turn left or go straight on, if your exit is blocked, you shouldn’t enter the box junction - even if the light is green.
You’re ok to proceed and join a stationary line of traffic on the other side if you’ve got enough room for your whole vehicle to clear the junction, however, if you’re not sure, you go anyway and you’ve misjudged things, you’re just going to cause an obstruction.
The only exception to the no-stop rule is if you are turning right and you need to wait for a gap to appear in oncoming traffic. In this instance, you can wait in the box junction for that gap to materialise.
Making Your Turn Through a Box Junction
Ok, so we’ve covered the rules governing when you can enter a box junction. So it’s time for us to look at how you should enter when the time is right. Well, firstly, you need to approach the junction appropriately by positioning your car in line with the manoeuvre you’re about to make.
If you’re turning left or going straight on and your exit is clear, you simply need to drive or turn through the junction at a safe speed and go on your way.
However, if you’re turning right through the box junction, you should stay in your lane and slowly drive into the middle of the box to the point where you make your turn, being careful not to stray into the path of traffic coming the other way. Once you’re in the middle, you turn or wait until the way is clear for you to turn right.
What to Do If The Lights Go Red Before You Can Turn
If the traffic lights go red and you’re still in the box junction trying to turn, don’t panic. You’re still permitted to make your turn and the likelihood is that the way will soon clear for you to exit. The period between your lights going red and other lights going green is usually enough time for you to get out of the way.
That said, if you enter a box junction when you’re not supposed and get ‘stuck’ when the lights change, you’re just going to end up blocking traffic and annoying other drivers - drivers who may attempt dangerous driving manoeuvres to get around you.
You Can Get Fined For Blocking a Box Junction
In addition to annoying other drivers, blocking a box junction can hit you in the pocket. Without wanting to get too negative about it, there are traffic cameras everywhere these days and if you’re found to have improperly blocked a box junction, you can end up with fixed penalty notice coming through your letterbox.
Depending on where you’re driving in the UK, it can cost you anywhere from £70-£130, which will go up if you don’t pay it within a certain amount of time. However, this is not something you’ll have to worry about if you follow the tips we’ve shown you here.
Box Junctions Are Less Scary Once You Know How They Work
As you can see, box junctions are an everyday part of driving on the roads in the UK and there is a very specific way of getting through them safely. However, once you know what you’re doing and you’ve practiced them a few times, they get a lot less scary.
So, get out there, get practicing and you’ll be taking box junctions with confidence before you know it!