Malls and major shopping centers are ready for -- and welcoming -- hordes of shoppers looking for Black Friday specials. Over the years, local police and mall owners have put into place some restrictions to make traffic flow in the lots and nearby roads run smoother.

While virtually the only cars on the road early Friday belonged to shoppers hunting for bargains, area police had a traffic warning: Don't Block the Box.

The annual campaign to remind motorists not to follow the car ahead of them into an intersection launched with the holiday shopping season, and in Milford, vehicles blocking key intersections face a $117 fine.

Officer Jeff Nielsen said two Boston Post Road intersections, at Cedarhurst Lane and East Town Road have been targeted for stepped-up enforcement. East Town Road separates the Westfield Connecticut Post Mall from the Milford Crossing Shopping Plaza, anchored by Walmart.

"White lines are painted on the pavement, which clearly identify the boundaries of these intersections to motorists,'' said Nielsen, the Milford police spokesman.

"By keeping these intersections clear, the traffic flow will significantly improve for everyone traveling on the roadways throughout the year and especially during peak shopping times,'' he said.

A blocked intersection can hinder police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians responding to an accident or to a crime in progress, Nielsen said.

Before Milford adopted the Block the Box restrictions, it took drivers extra time to leave the mall's parking lots and gain access to the public roads.

Besides the Connecticut Post Mall, other major shopping centers in southwestern Connecticut include the Danbury Fair mall, Westfield Trumbull and the Stamford Town Center.

In Danbury, a police spokesman said that, as of 7:15 a.m., there had been no incidents reported at Danbury Fair mall, the state's second largest mall.

Sgt. John Kapinsky said that traffic wouldn't pick up until between and 9 and 10 a.m. By then, parking will be scarce.

The hubbub typically associated with Black Friday, as shoppers jostle to claim steeply-discounted items, was nowhere to be seen this year, Kapinsky said. At worst, he said, police are concerned about increased incidents of road rage.

Paul Sabena, spokesman for the Westfield Trumbull mall, said although this was the first year that the mall opened at midnight, there were no incidents or parking problems. "We've had varying traffic patterns through the morning; it slowed down a bit between 6 and 7 (a.m.),'' he said.

Pamela Wiles, spokeswoman for the Stamford Town Center, said that center has multiple entry points to its parking garage, and so doesn't have one intersection that can be blocked. Although some of its stores opened as early as midnight, the mall itself opened at 8 a.m., she said. "We've had a nice, steady crowd all day and there are a lot of people carrying shopping bags.''

A Trumbull police dispatcher said there were no reported problems at the mall at 11 a.m.

Meanwhile, downtown Milford merchants urged shoppers to abandon the busy Boston Post Road for the small shops lining River and Broad streets. Susan Shaw, owner of Collected Stories Bookstore, even suggested a different name for the day. "We call it Frenzied Friday,'' she said.

Staff writer Libor Jany contributed to this story.