No road code change on April Fools

November 10th, 2011 at 8:06 am by David Farrar

Katie Chapman at Stuff reports:

Concern that people may think new give-way rules were an April Fool’s Day joke led to an eleventh-hour date change – despite plans for a $1.2 million education campaign.

Just hours before Transport Minister Steven Joyce was due to lodge a Cabinet paper outlining the changes to the give-way rule, he questioned the planned April 1 start date, saying people may think it was a joke.

Despite advice that April 1 would be more memorable, the date was changed to March 25.

The rule change includes dropping the give-way-to-the-right rule in favour of giving way to the left.

I have to say I think the Minister called this one right. telling people the give way rules will be changing on April Fools Day would be a risk best avoided.

For us Kiwis, giving way to the right is so ingrained, it will take a while to get used to it. Now all we need is a law change that also allows you to turn left on a red light if it is safe.

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30 Responses to “No road code change on April Fools”

  1. eszett (2,408 comments) says:

    The sooner they make the change the better, so I am with Mr Joyce on this one.

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  2. jims_whare (403 comments) says:

    Now all we need is a law change that also allows you to turn left on a red light if it is safe.

    Completely agree with this. When we did the US cross country trip last year this saved us a lot of time.

    I’m not so sure about their 4 way stop signs though – might be a bit much thinking for the average kiwi driver!

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  3. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    “For us Kiwis, giving way to the right is so ingrained,”

    You obviosuyl dont drive much in Auckland

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  4. wreck1080 (3,917 comments) says:

    The danger will be when driving in subconscious mode — who has been driving along thinking about various matters then can’t remember the last few minutes driving?

    +1 for left turn on red– best rule ever, but, you do have to take care for cars doing u-turns he he.

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  5. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    The rule I’d like to see (just so I can keep doing it without fear of penalty) is the adoption of the turn on red light rule they have in the US. basically as long as you’ve given way to everyone else you could turn left on a red light.

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  6. flipper (4,067 comments) says:

    Quite agree DPF. The emails are instructive in respect of departmental (attempted in this case) capture.

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  7. thomasbeagle (77 comments) says:

    Left turn on red? We don’t need *more* drivers cruising through pedestrian crossings in Wellington.

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  8. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    Pity the Minister at the time did not have the balls to challenge officialdom at the time the present rules were brought in (I cannot remember when, the governing party or the minister). There was public disquiet at the time, but unfortunately some Ministers just go along with what officialdom recommends rather than seek an alternative opinion when concern is expressed. I think it was 30 years ago or so but that would be plus or minus 10 years or so.

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  9. petal (706 comments) says:

    Maybe I don’t like change, but I’m not looking forward to this. Insurance companies probably aren’t either, although panel beaters will enjoy the one-off surge in their incomes.

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  10. Sam (502 comments) says:

    -1 on the turning left if safe at a red light. Drivers’ notions of what is safe is usually restricted to other cars on the road, and not necessarily pedestrians. I was often quite terrified as a pedestrian in the States for this very reason. Leaving a decision like this to drive judgement is all well and good, but you do have to allow for the lowest common denominator that such a move would allow.

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  11. ciaron (1,434 comments) says:

    The first thing I noticed about driving in Christchurch, was how difficult it is to turn right with most people just creeping across the intersection and often having to wait for the red to get across… recipe for disaster, I say.

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  12. homepaddock (408 comments) says:

    Some of us are old enough to remember when the rule was the way it’s goign to be again.

    The easiest way to remember it is give way to the right except when you’re turning right when you give way to everyone else.

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  13. MT_Tinman (3,187 comments) says:

    Once again this complete joke of a chauffeur driven minister makes a bloody stupid, completely dickheaded decision that will cause mayhem on the roads!

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  14. alwyn (425 comments) says:

    Melbourne used to have give way laws like those that we have now. In their case it was intended to speed up the trams by getting right turning cars out of their way.
    I was living there when they changed the rules, after many years of the other ones.
    People adjusted immediately and the accident rate in the city dropped.
    The problem with our current ones is that people have to make too many decisions and look in too many directions.
    The more decisions you have to make the more likely is an accident.
    I predict that a week after the change we will have forgotten all about the current, confusing, rules.

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  15. Fletch (6,390 comments) says:

    I’ve been driving the same way all my life – dunno how easy it is going to be to change. You’d only have to be daydreaming about something else and going on instinct to have an accident.

    Then there are issues like THIS – http://bit.ly/uWZR6h

    If you’re on a main road and wanting to turn right onto a side road, you’ll never get across.
    I wonder if the brains have considered this in a country where we drive on the left side of the road?

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  16. wreck1080 (3,917 comments) says:

    @sam: were you really in the states??? I had the opposite experience…drivers are so scared of being sued that they give pedestrians the right of way all the time.

    You’re the first person I’ve heard to say this is a bad rule.

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  17. ciaron (1,434 comments) says:

    If you’re on a main road and wanting to turn right onto a side road, you’ll never get across.

    It’s already like that in CHCH, where you often have a right turning lane but no arrow, so the scenario you link to will ony get worse.

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  18. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    Logical move to change the Law and to change the implementation date.

    @Fletch – using your example, the old Law said that, if there was oncoming traffic, the turning driver had to pull over to the left of the road (onto the shoulder) and to wait for the road to be clear both ways before turning. But instances of a driver stopping on the centre lane of a 100kph state highway, (waiting for oncoming traffic to clear before they turn) is simply a disaster waiting to happen.

    As an aside, our driving standards in NZ are awful – every day we see instances of morons driving like boy racers, retards running red lights or idiots tailgating. Such human hazards should have their licences revoked until they have been taught how to drive properly. Indeed, maybe every driver should have to re-sit their driver’s licence every 10 years.

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  19. PaulP (150 comments) says:

    Homepaddock – “The easiest way to remember it is give way to the right except when you’re turning right when you give way to everyone else”.

    That’s not correct as currently when turning left you give way to your right. Under the old rules (and proposed reversion to them) you would not and would have right of way over those turning right (from your right). With your advice I would still give way to the right as I am not turning right.

    Perhaps you mean give way to the right unless they are turning right. Not sure if that is correct but would work when a vehicle is turning left and the other is turning right.

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  20. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    We already have 4 way stop signs in NZ. I really like those in the USA, especially flashing orange and flashing red lights. For those that haven’t driven there, flashing orange means giveway to your left(like a roundabout), flashing red means stop and then give way to your left(like a roundabout). Meant that at 3am you don’t sit through a ludicrous light phase where there is no-one for miles.

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  21. Sam (502 comments) says:

    wreck1080 – perhaps drivers are more cavalier in lousiville (maybe under the influence of some of kentucky’s finest?)…

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  22. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    Elaycee

    “But instances of a driver stopping on the centre lane of a 100kph state highway, (waiting for oncoming traffic to clear before they turn) is simply a disaster waiting to happen. ”

    A disaster that waits to happen about a gazillion times a day nowadays. Its even more exciting at night.

    My observation is that most people don’t know it isn’t cricket or is even the least bit dangerous, and it hasn’t occurred to them that if nothing else, like camping in the right hand lane on a motorway, its just downright bloody rude.

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  23. leftyliberal (651 comments) says:

    I don’t see the point of turn left on red in NZ personally – many traffic lights are setup to have free left turns anyway which IMO is a better implementation. Also, many smaller intersections with lights don’t have a dedicated lane for turning left, so the benefit would only be present if you were first in line (or following a bunch of left turning cars) – once there’s a single car going straight you have to wait anyway. Lastly, we have roundabouts whereas the US does not (there’s some older traffic circles which follow different rules, and roundabouts as we know them are slowly being introduced), so most intersections in NZ don’t lights anyway.

    As for this rule, IMO it’s a good change – anecdotely the majority of people don’t seem to understand the current situation, so an education campaign will be successful at “changing” people’s behaviours.

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  24. Ed Snack (1,873 comments) says:

    Well, I like the current rules and think that they improve the traffic flow and what’s more are easier to understand. And I’ve driven under the old rules as well, so with experience of both I still prefer the current. Under the old and soon to be new, rules, trying to turn right into a side road can be a very long and frustrating process as you have to wait for all other traffic. Under the current rules it is easier as you only have to wait for straight-through traffic. In contrast, left turners very rarely have a problem and rarely block/hold up traffic as well. So it’s a negative change for me.

    As an aside, I thought one major driver for the change wasn’t for locals, but that tourists find it hard to adapt.

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  25. aitkenmike (94 comments) says:

    Agree 100% Ed.

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  26. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    The current rule is up with the priorite a droit (give way to the right – a different give way rule to ours) rule in parts of Europe in terms of stupidity and danger. I’ve seen about 4 or 5 near accidents because of this in my time here in NZ.

    With the traffic behind the left turning car overtaking it it means the left turner has to work out whether the right turner is going to risk it, the right turner work out whether the trailing vehicles will overtake or not and the trailing vehicles work out whether it is safe to overtake. That is 3 drivers making a decision with moving traffic in the mix and all have to get it right. Most accidents happen at intersections I understand and so we make this intersection based decision as complex as possible.

    Going to the proposed rule means that only the right turner has to make a judgement and decision. Much less chance of combined error.

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  27. Steve (4,563 comments) says:

    I’m getting a tank.
    After reading the comments above I can see that the fuckwits will start hurting people. They do not understand the rules now so how will they understand the rules when they change?
    Phark!
    slijmbal, what if both vehicles are turning right? BTW it is illegle to overtake on an intersection

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  28. MT_Tinman (3,187 comments) says:

    Steve (1,966) Says:
    November 10th, 2011 at 6:37 pm
    BTW it is illegle to overtake on an intersection

    umm …. no, it’s not.

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  29. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    @Steve

    it’s not overtaking on an intersection for the driver going straight as it’s strictly speaking not an intersection for them and as Tinman pointed out – it’s not illegal anyway – the British Highway Code states that one should not overtake at a junction – perhaps that’s what you are thinking

    For 2 vehicles turning right where both are on a straight road then the rule is that they just turn right without intersecting each other i.e. in front of each other – different circumstances all together and indicate that you probably don’t understand the rules by your comments – that tank is looking attractive

    http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode/about-driving/giving-way-at-uncontrolled-intersections.html

    Of interest – in the UK I seem to remember the highway code advised passing each other and then turning right but one had the choice of turning in front or behind the oncoming vehicle which struck me as dumb i.e. a choice of 2 methods. This led to a “will he? won’t he?” confusion at junctions. Most drivers preferred the NZ approach. With the proliferation of SUVs and the associated reduction in ability to see past the oncoming vehicle the British advised approach feels a lot safer as it means one is guaranteed a view of oncoming traffic.

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  30. Steve (4,563 comments) says:

    slijmbal and MT_Tinman
    You may want to look at this:
    http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode/about-driving/passing.html
    They even made pictures, but it can be confusing. See picture 9.
    Oh slijmbal, this is NZ not Pomgolia. We have different rules here because we have special people making the rules

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