The RAC is asking the government to update guidance on yellow box intersections

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Sam Wright, Chartered Engineer formally responsible for the design and approval of Yellow Boxes on the TfL Road Network, discusses whether yellow box crossings are unfairly enforced?

Wright explains, “The most important design principle is that yellow boxes should not be larger than necessary to avoid vehicles being impeded by movement. They are not designed and serve no purpose in situations where vehicles are traveling in the same direction.

“The second key requirement is that drivers should have sufficient visibility beyond the pits to be able to make a clear judgment before entering. Not only do drivers need to see the end of the box, they need to see that there is space behind the box to fit their vehicle without any part of it overhanging. In the case of a car that is 5-6 m long. It’s up to 15m for larger vehicles. I think designers should rush out a car in an hour to see if they can scale the crate without stopping before insisting that others do the same.

“Drivers may also be surprised to learn that there is no legal obligation for the authorities to meet these design criteria and that it is simply a matter of the law enforcement agency’s jurisdiction.”

In August 2020, the RAC released the results of a Freedom of Information request showing that between 2016 and 2019 London and Cardiff councilors took in £86m from a staggering 1.3m PCNs. Over half a million PCNs alone raised more than £31m in FY18/19. The RAC believes these figures show how lucrative enforcement of junction boxes can be for local authorities and the importance of properly updating the guidance as these powers are extended to local authorities across the rest of England.

Nicholas Lyes, Head of Roads Policy at the RAC, said: “Without definitive guidance on crossing design, maintenance and enforcement, there will be a high level of confusion among drivers and local authorities, which could lead to an avalanche of fines being wrongly issued and must then be challenged. This will inevitably lead to an unnecessarily high number of appeals for scrutiny by local authorities, as well as some bad results 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 of design and condition of a junction box should be before enforcement can begin, but they insist that the current guidance is sufficient .

“We fear that failure to update the guidance to include the lessons learned from more than 15 years of enforcement in London will result in countless spurious fines, endless unnecessary stress for drivers who feel unfairly treated and thousands of wasted council hours who investigate appeals.

“It is absolutely crucial that yellow crossings are fairly enforced and as things stand this may not be the case which will result in many drivers being mistreated and suffering financial losses as a result.”

Read the full report, ‘Fairly Enforcing Rules for Yellow Box Junctions: The Dangers Facing Councilors and Drivers’, here.

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