Guide to Yellow Box Junction Law
Welcome to the website of the 'Yellow Box Guru'. UK yellow box law is surprisingly complex, involving the dynamics of the movement, the physical box and enforcement and appeals legislation which differs in London, England and Wales. Altogether there are at least 10 different pieces of legislation. Most people are familiar with the highway code which states: "You MUST NOT enter the box until your exit road or lane is clear". The contravention code on tickets says something different: "Entering and stopping in a box junction when prohibited". However neither of these are actually the law. To kick off the confusion, you can see the highway code doesn't actually mention the word "stop". And what does "when prohibited" mean? Most people are not aware that it's not actually an offence to stop on a box per-say, there are all manner of circumstances that need to be taken into account. Also boxes and tickets have been deemed to not comply with the law meaning thousands of tickets were issued wrongly. Most drivers do not know enough about the law to know if they are guilty or not. And some of those issuing tickets also do not understand the law. Go through this checklist of you have a ticket.
Unlike other restrictions like banned turns, drivers must rely exclusively on seeing the marking on the road from the acute angle of the driver's seat. They must see exactly where it ends in order to comply with the highway code requirement to only enter if their exit is clear. It might be faded, obstructed by other vehicles or the road layout etc. The drivers view is very different to the camera view, as shown below - both are images of the same box. The camera operator never sees the driver's view.
4. Over zealous
The law is that any part of the vehicle in the box for any length of time is eligible for a ticket. There are many examples of enforcement targeting extremely minor stops not causing any obstruction, for example in the video below. This is what is meant by "over zealous" enforcement. It does not reduce congestion, "keep traffic moving" or improve "safety".
5. Judging length from an acute angle
Even when they can see the end of the box, the driver needs to judge if the space on the exit is big enough to fit their vehicle. In the first example below, it's a small box and close distance, yet still it would be easy to misjudge and overhang the box by a few inches. Now imagine a longer distance such as the second photo. Is the space on the right adequate? If you drove into and stopped in the middle of these boxes then clearly that's wrong and few people would shed a tear if you got a ticket. But a genuine attempt to clear the box and misjudging by a small amount is very different. Is it fair to expect people to be able to accurately judge length from an acute angle? Is it within the cognitive ability of humans? I would like to see some controlled trials and research on this issue.
6. Legal stops
Unfortunately I see many tickets being issued when the stop was legal. Either the camera operator doesn't understand the law, or they do but just give a ticket anyway.