Header of a yellow box junction

Box junction rules explained

Box junctions are easy to spot. They’re painted directly onto the road, comprising a large yellow box outline, filled with criss-crossed yellow hatching. As they’re so distinctive, box junctions aren’t indicated by any other signage in the vicinity.

You’ll find them at busy crossroads and roundabouts, outside fire stations and other buildings where emergency vehicles are used, such as hospitals.

In busy urban areas, their job is to keep traffic flowing smoothly by keeping junctions clear of traffic. This helps to prevent traffic jams and accidents.

Box junctions outside emergency service sites help to ensure vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines can enter and exit whenever they need to.

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Box junction rules

Although box junctions are a point of confusion for some drivers, their rules are fairly straightforward.

The main rule to remember is that you must ensure your exit is clear before entering a box junction, even if the lights are currently green. In other words, you should be able to drive straight through the junction without stopping anywhere on the yellow markings.

However, there is an exception to this rule: the only time when you can legally stop in a box junction is when you’re turning right.

It’s important to be aware of the rules above, as you could incur a fine if you’re caught breaking them.

Navigating box junctions

Here’s a brief guide to navigating yellow box junctions:

Turning left

The main rule applies here: don’t enter the box junction unless you can drive straight through without stopping. If your exit is blocked, wait behind the stop line until you can safely make your turn and exit without stopping in the yellow box.

Going straight on

The same rules apply. You must make sure your exit is completely clear before you drive into the box junction. If it isn’t, wait behind the stop line until you can safely drive through without stopping.

When turning left and going straight on, remember that even if your car is within the box by a couple of inches, you could still incur a fine. So, make sure there is plenty of space on the other side of the box before you drive into it.

Turning right

The only time you can legally stop in a yellow box junction is when you’re turning right and waiting for either a gap in oncoming traffic or another vehicle to turn right.

Drive slowly into the middle of the box until you get to the spot where you need to start your right turn. Make sure you stay in your lane and don’t stray into the path of oncoming traffic.

When there’s a safe gap in the oncoming traffic and your exit is completely clear, you can make your turn and drive out of the junction. If there are filter traffic lights, wait for the right arrow to light up before you turn.

Don’t just follow the vehicle in front of you – it might stop and block your exit. Also, don’t let other drivers pressure you into entering the box junction if you can’t see a clear exit.

Safety tips

Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are harder to spot on the roads than cars and other vehicles. So, it’s important to be aware of them, especially at a busy box junction.

It’s easy to fixate on the box junction rules and where and when you should be going, but make sure you’re keeping a lookout for other road users.

Whilst yellow box junctions have their own specific rules, you also need to obey other traffic signs and signals that may be in place, such as filter lights, 'Stop' and 'Give Way' signs.

I’m stuck in a box junction. Will I get fined?

You could be fined for getting stuck in a box junction if you entered without having a clear exit, or, if you stopped for any reason other than waiting for a gap in oncoming traffic, or other vehicles to turn before turning right yourself.

Do you get points for stopping in a yellow box junction?

You’ll usually just get a fine with a penalty charge notice (PCN) or a fixed penalty notice (FPN) if you’re caught breaking box junction rules. However, if you cause an accident, you may also receive penalty points on your licence.

How much will I be fined for a yellow box junction offence?

In London, you can be fined up to £160 for breaking yellow box junction rules, whereas elsewhere in the UK, the fine is usually around £70.

Do yellow box junctions have cameras?

Most yellow box junctions are monitored by cameras, although not all are. However, it’s a good idea to be cautious and drive as if there is a camera present each time you approach a yellow box junction.