Published 8 August 2023
Last updated 8 August 2023
In this blog we look at box junctions. You'll find out what they are, how they help traffic to flow in busy areas and how to avoid misusing them.
Who was it who said, ‘all of life is a junction’? I don’t know, but whoever it was they were probably on to something.
Fortunately, the only junctions that need to bother us here are of the road variety. Today we’re going to have a look at a specific type of junction – the ‘box’ junction.
What are box junctions?
Box junctions are road junctions that have criss-cross yellow lines painted on the road. They are designed to reduce the build-up of traffic at the junction. They do this by keeping the junction clear for through-traffic.
Like all road markings, there are rules for how you should drive when you encounter them.
Here’s what Highway Code rule number 174 says:
‘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.’
That’s a lot of MUST NOTs. But it’s important to get these rules down and obey them because some box junctions have cameras looking down on them – and that means it’s fine time if you’re caught obstructing the flow of traffic. I don’t know about you, but £70 (£130 in London!) always feels better when it’s in my pocket, rather than in the pocket of the local council.
Where do you find box junctions?
They’re usually at busy crossroads and T-junctions, but they occasionally appear on roundabouts. They’re mostly controlled by traffic lights, but this isn’t always the case. You’ll also find them outside fire and ambulance stations too.
How can I avoid stopping in a box junction?
Well, here’s the fun part: sometimes you will stop in one and it’s perfectly OK. Don’t worry this is not as complicated as it sounds.
Imagine you’re at a set of traffic lights at a crossroads. The lights turn green and you move forward because it's safe to do so and your exit road – in this case a right turn – looks clear. You move into the box to make the right turn, but you have to wait for traffic coming from the other direction. The traffic clears and you make the turn.
The important thing to bear in mind is that if you had moved into the box junction and your exit road had not been clear then you could well have found yourself in trouble.
You should also remember that Highway Code rule 174 states that you can only stop in the box if you’re turning right and are stopped from doing so by other vehicles waiting to turn right or oncoming traffic. If you were heading straight over and your exit road was blocked, you might have ended up stranded in the box and in all kinds of bother. For this reason, it’s vitally important that you scan the road ahead. Don’t be tempted to follow other drivers into the junction without checking you’ll be able to clear the box. Also don’t give in to pressure from drivers of vehicles behind you in the queue. Those drivers won’t be paying your fine, after all.
Well, that’s it for this instalment. Remember there’s plenty of fantastic advice here on the Safe Driving for Life website. You can also head on over to our lovely shop and bag yourself a copy of The Official Highway Code for a better understanding of the essential rules of the road.