Moving traffic violations
Local councils have long had the power to penalise motorists who contravene parking rules and bus lane restrictions. But outside of London, responsibility for enforcing and penalising ‘moving traffic violations’ has always sat with the police. However, in a proposed change to official policy, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that he’s considering handing all UK councils the power to issue penalty charges for moving traffic violations, such as entering a box junction unlawfully.
So what is a box junction?
Box junctions are generally found at busy intersections where traffic is controlled by lights, and occasionally at roundabouts or outside fire and ambulance stations. They are clearly visible from the criss-cross pattern of yellow lines painted on the road, and although some drivers treat them as a nuisance, their purpose is to keep junctions clear for through-traffic, and to keep traffic flowing as smoothly as possible. And that means sticking firmly to box junction do’s and don’ts.
Do’s and Don’ts
The Highway Code states, “You MUST NOT enter the box until your exit road or lane is clear.” Which seems fairly straightforward, but it’s the next bit that causes confusion... “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.” So although the Code uses capital letters to stress that “You MUST NOT enter the box until your exit is clear”, YOU CAN enter the box if you are turning right and your way is blocked. But if you come across a box junction at a signalled roundabout, then you really MUST NOT enter the box unless your exit is clear.
Fines as a revenue generator?
Giving local councils the power to enforce the rules of the road may seem a sensible and practical step forward – it would allow our under-resourced police forces to focus their attentions on tackling serious crime rather than chasing inconsiderate drivers. But motoring organisations have expressed concerns that cash-strapped authorities may use their new powers to boost revenues from careless motorists. After all, Transport for London, which has had the ‘power to penalise’ since 2004, issued £16 million in motoring fines in one year alone.