30 Sep 2010

Sharp rise in road accidents 'unlikely' under new rule

3:18 pm on 30 September 2010

Transport Minister Steven Joyce believes a spike in road accidents is unlikely, as a result of changes to the 'give way' rules at intersections from early 2012.

The move will mean vehicles turning left will no longer give way to oncoming right-turning traffic.Instead the vehicle turning left will have the right of way.

Mr Joyce says the current rules for turning vehicles are confusing and out of step with the rest of the world.

He told Morning Report that the change will be carefully communicated to the public. Because of that, he doubts there will be more crashes.

He said police will give some leeway with the change and give warnings before moving to enforcement.

Traffic lights next - AA

The Automobile Association believes traffic light signalling needs to be considered, as a spin-off of changes to 'give-way' road rules.

Motoring affairs manager Mike Noon says officials must consider how to avoid right turning vehicles queuing up as a result and it is also important to look at the phasing of traffic lights.

The Road Transport Association says although there will be some transitions to consider, New Zealand is reverting to a more natural way of driving with these changes.

Most get rules wrong anyway - instructor

A driving instructor says the change in the give-way rules announced on Wednesday will not affect most drivers, who she said, have always done it wrong.

The Government says the switch, which will come into force in early 2012, could stop 7% of intersection crashes.

AAA Driving School instructor Helen Richards believes the transition will be smooth because few drivers fully understand the current rule that right-turning traffic has right of way.

She says the current rule is particularly confusing for drivers from other countries because it is not practised anywhere else.

However, Auckland barrister Steve Cullen predicts that initially at least, the changes will cause more accidents than they prevent.