Brussels launches campaign against junction-jammers


A campaign has begun in Brussels to inform drivers that it’s illegal to block road junctions, even if the light was green when you entered it

“Don’t block the box”

Three of Brussels’ busiest junctions have been painted over with a cross-hatch pattern, part of a new campaign to teach motorists to keep junctions clear. The patterns on Sainctelette, Troon and Kunst-Wet are part of the “Don’t block the box” campaign launched by mobility minister Pascal Smet.

It is illegal under Belgian law to hold up traffic by entering a junction on a green light while there is no possible exit should the lights change. The law is universally ignored, however, which results in much worse tailbacks as drivers going in one direction block cross traffic.

“Driving through a green at all costs is a form of asocial and arrogant behaviour that cannot be tolerated,” commented Danny Smagghe of the motoring organisation Touring, which supports the campaign.

The chequered box painted on the road surface has been in use in other countries for decades. It acts as a signal: Do not drive onto the box unless you can drive all the way across it, even if the light is green.

The painted boxes on three busy junctions will also be accompanied by an awareness campaign, with flyers handed out at other junctions and an increased police presence to evaluate the scheme and hand out fines of €55 to anyone “blocking the box”. The project will be extended if a six-month evaluation proves positive.

The Belgian Institute for Road Safety has mixed feelings, according to spokesperson Stef Willems. The situation, he said, “cannot be resolved by changes to infrastructure. The only thing that helps is to make it clear to people that they have to wait their turn.”

Flanders, meanwhile, has no plans to follow Brussels’ example. “This is a  question of common sense,” said Flemish mobility minister Ben Weyts. “If you see that you’re going to block a junction, then just wait.”

Photo courtesy Pascal Smet/Twitter