'Money-box' trap scores R26m
RIGHT ON THE MONEYBOX: The infamous and very profitable 'box-trap' in Fulham, London.
LONDON, England – A traffic light ‘box-trap’ generated the equivalent of R26-million in fines during 2012 for a London local council.
According to the London Daily Mail ‘The Moneybox’, as angry drivers have dubbed the cross-hatched box junction, generated 40 634 fines through 2011/12 – an average of 111 a day or nearly three times the number of drivers caught in the previous 12 months and more than five times the total of two years earlier.
Suspicious drivers, the Mail reported, have accused Hammersmith and Fulham Council in West London of designing the junction to entrap drivers and create a cash cow. There's a fear that similar traps could spring up across Britain if local authorities outside London are allowed to impose fines for a variety of road offences.
Drivers should enter a box junction only if the exit is clear - as in South Africa, though most drivers here are too selfish to obey the law. They can, however, stop in the box if they need to turn right and are stopped from doing so by oncoming traffic or other vehicles queuing to turn right.
However, the Mail says, affected drivers argue that The Moneybox, at the junction of fashionable but heavily congested New King’s Road and Bagley’s Lane in Fulham – has two sets of traffic lights which allow more vehicles to enter the controlled area than can get back out of it before the lights change again.
And that's when the trap camera flashes: many drivers are being fined the equivalent of R900, which doubles if not paid within two weeks.
Susanne More of Twickenham, south-west London, and has been fined twice. "There’s something fundamentally wrong with the number of fines issued to drivers going into this junction," she said. "It seems the council has decided this is a really good money-making scheme.
"The yellow box is far too long. It doesn’t give you enough time to get out and the signalling is awful."
Musician Jonathan Majin told the Mail: "Drivers are frequently lured into the yellow box and trapped there by the lights. It's a complex, confusing and unclear junction."
Fines are being issued to drivers heading along New King’s Road towards Chelsea. As they enter the junction, another set of lights 33m up the road remains red for 25-40 seconds. Only four cars can wait legally behind the first lights, leaving the rest at risk of being spotted on CCTV.
Traffic tickets are automatically sent to the vehicle owners.
Drivers are also getting caught as they wait to turn right from New King’s Road.
A council spokesman said nobody would be penalised if they "just stick to the rules" but Transport for London said it would consider improving the junction.
About 20 councils have asked to take over enforcement - and consequent income - of 26 road offences from the police, including those involving box junctions, U-turns and cycle lanes.
Critics say they will be used to generate income.