Yellow box warning as motorists could be fined by councils under new rules

Motorists are being warned they could be fined for driving the wrong way down the road or misusing a yellow box by the council. Another driving mistake which could be punished include making an illegal turn in the road – because the Department for Transport will shortly begin accepting applications from councils to issue fines for such misdemeanors.

The RAC claimed many motorists will be unfairly punished unless the Government improves its design, maintenance and enforcement guidelines for local authorities. They also fear this will lead to a huge amount of appeals for local authorities to deal with.

Councils who apply successfully will be able to issue penalty charge notices (PCNs) for these offences from June 1. Yellow boxes are used to ensure traffic flows smoothly through busy junctions and motorists should only enter them when their exit is clear or they are waiting to turn right.

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The RAC say government guidance on yellow boxes fails to state their specific function, how to design them in relation to vehicle movements or how to maintain or enforce them. The only local authorities with the power to currently enforce moving traffic offences in England and Wales are Transport for London (TfL), the London boroughs and Cardiff Council.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “In the absence of definitive guidance on the design, maintenance and enforcement of box junctions, there will be a high degree of confusion among drivers and local authorities, which could lead to an avalanche of penalty charge notices being wrongly issued and then having to be appealed.

“This will inevitably lead to an unnecessarily high number of appeals for local authorities to review, as well as some poor outcomes for drivers. We have written to the Department for Transport asking them to update the guidance to make it clear to local authorities what the minimum standard for design and condition of a box junction should be before letting enforcement begin, but they are adamant the present guidance is sufficient.

“We are worried that failing to update guidance to include the lessons learnt from more than 15 years of enforcement in London will lead to countless wrong fines being issued, no end of unnecessary stress for drivers who feel they have been unfairly treated and thousands of wasted council hours investigating appeals.

“It’s absolutely crucial that yellow box junctions are enforced fairly and, as things stand, this may not be the case, which will mean many drivers will be treated poorly and lose out financially as a result.”

A DfT spokeswoman said: “These new powers are designed to improve cycle safety, air quality and support of bus services. It’s for local authorities to enforce them and ensure they meet local needs.”

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