Millions of drivers are exposing themselves to a potential fine because they struggle to use yellow box junctions properly.
The yellow painted hatching is a common site on junctions around the country but a poll of motorists has found that eight out of ten drivers struggle to get through them without stopping.
The markings are designed to stop drivers blocking intersections and obstructing a yellow box junction carries a fine of Â£70, or Â£130 in London.
Currently, only London and Cardiff councils have the power to enforce the fines using cameras, with junctions elsewhere being the responsibility of the police. But there are calls for more councils to be given camera enforcement powers, exposing more drivers to the threat of a fine.
The Local Government Authority says that police have largely stopped enforcing so-called moving traffic offences since the Traffic Management Act was introduced in 2004 and wants councils to take over the role.
Under the Act, councils in England and Wales can be given enforcement powers but the Government has so far not done so. In Scotland, separate legislation would be needed as it isnâ€™t covered by the Act.
While almost half of drivers questioned by the RAC say they occasionally find themselves accidentally stuck in yellow box junctions, the majority say the blame lies elsewhere.
Three quarters say that poor traffic light sequencing is behind their infringement while a third say itâ€™s down to other drivers breaking the rules and forcing them to do the same. A smaller number (20 per cent) think the the blame lies with poor junction design.
Only 13 per cent of drivers think yellow boxes are easy to negotiate.
Most drivers (72 per cent) said councils should be given powers to police yellow box junctions but they were divided over the approach. Just over a third (36 per cent) believed the rules should only be applied at problem junctions, while others wanted blanket enforcement.
Some (13 per cent) also backed a set penalty, while most backed a warning letter for first offences followed by fines for repeat rule breakers. One in five believed the fines should be graduated.
RAC spokesperson Simon Williams said: â€œOur research shows yellow box junctions are a very divisive issue with drivers. While the majority are in favour of councils more widely being allowed to use cameras to catch offenders, there is a strong feeling that many junctions are not set up fairly which leads to drivers having no choice but stop in them, whether thatâ€™s due to poor traffic light sequencing, poor design or being used in the wrong place.
How to drive in a box junction
- You may enter a yellow box junction when your exit from it is clear and there is sufficient space on the other side for your vehicle to clear the box without stoppingYou may only
- stop in a yellow box junction if you are turning right and are prevented from doing so by oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead of you are also turning right
- If your exit is not clear and you are not turning right then no part of your vehicle should enter the yellow box
- Remember: Blocking a yellow box junction means that everyone else gets blocked with you
â€œBox junctions can also heighten stress for drivers as those at the front of traffic lights often feel pressured to move on as a result of impatient drivers behind who donâ€™t realise they are being prevented from doing so by the presence of yellow lines.
Lucrative revenue stream
â€œIf the Government was to grant local authorities the same powers that are already being used in London and Cardiff itâ€™s highly likely we would see a massive rise in the number of drivers being issued penalty charge notices.
â€œThe RAC is generally supportive of local authorities having the power to enforce yellow box junctions because of the value of local knowledge, but has concerns that it could lead to local authorities being inconsistent in their application of road traffic law. There is also a risk that cash-strapped authorities may see it as a lucrative revenue stream. To prevent this, we think warning letters for a first contravention would be appropriate.
â€œWe therefore believe it is essential that every yellow box junction where a camera is installed is comprehensively tested to ensure it is easy to negotiate without stopping.â€