2 Nov 2009

Transport Agency defends publicity over road rules

5:32 pm on 2 November 2009

The New Zealand Transport Agency is defending the level of publicity it has given to sweeping changes to road rules that came into force on Sunday.

The Land Transport (Road User) Amendment Rule 2009 makes 24 changes to road rules.

Some motorists have contacted Radio New Zealand expressing concern that not all of these changes have been widely publicised.

Dog and Lemon Guide editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, says only a few of these have been publicised and the Government's handling of the matter is a shambles.

Automobile Association motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon says this country generally does not advertise road rule changes very well.

Transport Agency spokesperson Andy Knackstedt says that as well as print and online advertising, it has printed 1.5 million copies of a leaflet highlighting key changes and directs people to a page on the agency's website that lists all the road rule amendments.

Mr Knackstedt says the leaflets will be distributed with driver and vehicle licence reminders and 100,000 copies have been given to police to hand out to the public.

Cellphone ban while driving

It is now an offence for motorists to use a hand-held cellphone while driving. This includes making or receiving calls from a cellphone, texting and e-mailing.

Motorists can make calls legally if they have a fully voice activated phone, or the device is secured in a fixed mounting. Genuine emergency calls are also allowed.

Those caught breaking the law can be given an $80 infringement ticket and 20 demerit points.

National manager of road policing Superintendent Paula Rose says public support for the ban is high, with most people complying. During the first few weeks of the ban officers will use their discretion when deciding whether to issue tickets.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says the cellphone ban has been needed for some time and New Zealand's roads will be much safer for it. He says most people are aware of the new rule, so there is no excuse for breaches.

Police are also enforcing new drug-driving rules from Sunday, with compulsory tests on motorists suspected of being under the influence of drugs.

Other changes to the road rules include the requirement for riders of motorbikes or mopeds built later than 1980 to have their lights on during daylight hours, and motorists being allowed to drive for only 50 metres along a special vehicle lane, such as a bus lane, before turning or parking.