More than 800 tickets issued for ‘blocking the box’

Don't Block the Box initiative gets going (Mark Batchelder/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — No matter how many times city officials warned people to not “block the box” in a section of Downtown Austin, 806 people still got tickets for doing just that — in just two weeks. “Don’t Block the Box!” is part of the city manager’s Traffic Congestion Action Plan, helping to keep cars moving ease congestion on major arterial roadways and in the Downtown Central Business District.

Police began enforcing the city’s new “Don’t Block the Box” campaign in the first week of April. And for those still wondering what the saying means, it refers to cars getting stuck in an intersection after the light turns red — in turn, backing up traffic. City officials unveiled the plan March 27. Drivers along Cesar Chavez Street may have noticed new signs about the campaign, too.

Still, hundreds got caught in the dreaded — and costly — box.

Week 1: April 6 through April 10

  • 360 moving violations issued
  • 106 nonmoving violations issued

Week 2: April 13 through April 17

  • 293 moving violations issued
  • 47 nonmoving violations issued

During the same period, 90 were some of the lucky ones getting warnings instead of tickets.

Implementation included officers being present in the City’s Traffic Management Center and having officers at key intersections to keep traffic flowing during the peak travel times between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and then again between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Key intersections staffed with officers

  • Cesar Chavez and Guadalupe streets
  • Cesar Chavez and Lavaca streets
  • Cesar Chavez and Colorado streets
  • Cesar Chavez Street and Congress Avenue

Officers look for these behaviors interrupting the flow of traffic

  • Red light violations
  • Blocking intersections
  • Failure to stop at proper place
  • Failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalk
  • Failure to yield to pedestrian control device
  • Driving in bus lanes
  • Reckless driving
  • Unsafe movements
  • Removing delivery trucks during peak times that block or interfere with traffic

Police say they’re ticketing drivers, bicyclists and even people walking. Drivers should know, whether or not there is a sign or an officer at the location, it is still illegal to block the box.

More Don’t Block the Box signs will be set up at various spots across the city in the upcoming weeks, though police officers will not shift staffing to those locations. Police enforcement will remain focused on the Cesar Chavez Street intersections for now.

More about ‘blocking the box’

Blocking the box means that a vehicle has entered an intersection without enough room on the other side of the intersection to clear it. It’s important not to block the box because it prevents vehicles from traveling through the intersection. Blocking the box not only causes traffic delays, it causes safety concerns for pedestrians trying to use the crosswalk, and emergency vehicles navigating the roads. The campaign also includes more tickets for people driving in bus lanes and delivery trucks blocking lanes of traffic.

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