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Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004

This rule establishes the rules under which traffic operates on roads. It applies to all road users, whether they are drivers, riders, passengers, pedestrians, or leading or droving animals.

About the rule

The rule is available in consolidated format (ie, a full, up-to-date, version of the rule including all its amendments) or as the original, unamended rule with separate amendment rules. Choose the option that best suits your needs from the list below.

To access the consolidated version of the rule (available only in PDF format), click on ‘Consolidation’ below.

The electronic versions of legislation on this website, and any legislation printed from the website:

  • have no official status

  • are made available for information only and should not be relied on as the authoritative text.

About the questions and answers

Questions and answers are provided to accompany a new rule or amendment rule when it is signed. These versions of the questions and answers are not updated to take into account any later amendments to the rule and are retained for historic interest only.

If you have any questions, please contact the Rules Team by emailing rules@nzta.govt.nz

Land Transport Rules - Questions & answers

Land Transport (Road User) Amendment Rule 2011

What is the reason for this amendment Rule?

The Land Transport (Road User) Amendment Rule 2011 introduces changes to the give way rules and makes a number of other changes to the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004.

What are the changes in this amendment Rule?

The main change is to the-give-way rules to improve safety at intersections. These will come into effect at 5am on 25 March 2012.

Other provisions in the amendment Rule, as described below, come into force on 1 October 2011. They will either:

  • align road user requirements with other legislation
  • strengthen or clarify provisions on existing road user requirements

Give-way rule changes from 25 March 2012


1. When will the give-way rules for turning traffic change?

At 5am on Sunday 25 March 2012. Until then the current give-way rules apply.

2. Why are the changes to the give-way rules being made?

A change to the give-way rules was identified as a road safety priority in the Government's road safety strategy to 2020, Safer Journeys.

The give-way rules, prior to this amendment, have placed complex demands upon road users, which can result in compromised road safety at intersections. Intersection crashes currently account for 20 percent of fatal and serious injury crashes. The majority of fatal intersection crashes occur in rural areas, but the majority of serious injury crashes are in urban areas. The number of intersection crashes involving pedestrians hit by turning traffic has increased by 79 percent since 2000.

It's expected that the changes to the give-way rules will reduce intersection crashes and improve safety, especially for pedestrians and cyclists.

The changes will result in less complex decision-making at intersections. Drivers of left-turning vehicles will only need to check whether there are pedestrians crossing the road into which they are turning, and whether there are any cyclists on the left of their vehicle. The driver of a right-turning vehicle will need to assess only whether there is a sufficient gap in the oncoming traffic.

The changes are also expected to marginally reduce the risk of a right-turning vehicle at an uncontrolled T-intersection being hit in the rear by straight-through traffic.

This change also brings New Zealand's give-way rules into line with give-way rules in other jurisdictions, eliminating the need for drivers from overseas to adapt to different rules.

3. How will the NZTA ensure that road users are aware of the changes to the give-way rules?

The NZTA will be conducting an intensive public information campaign about the give-way rule changes which will target all road users. This will include television, radio, online and print advertising. A key element is visual/video/audio explanations (and translations if appropriate) so all members of the public can access information in suitable formats.

This information campaign will be run in the period leading up to the date of the actual change on 25 March 2012. This is necessary to avoid public confusion and minimise the risk of people starting to use the new give-way rules too early. A dedicated NZTA website page www.nzta.govt.nz/road-user-rule and phone number 0800 656 055 has been set up that the public can access. The website and information for NZTA's contact centre will be updated to provide detailed information about the give-way rule changes as 25 March 2012 draws closer.

The NZTA will be working with road controlling authorities (local councils) and other interested groups to assist with communicating the changes.

4. Which give-way rules are being changed on 25 March 2012?

There are two give-way rules which are being changed:

Left turn v. right turn give-way rule

(at intersections where both cars are uncontrolled by signs or signals or where cars are controlled by the same sign or signal)

Current rules


Vehicle turning left has to give way.

New rules from 25 March 2012


Vehicle turning right has to give way.

Uncontrolled T-intersections

Current rules


Vehicle turning right from continuing road has to give way.

New rules from 25 March 2012


Vehicle turning right from terminating road has to give way.

Note: a controlled intersection is one where the give-way priorities are set by stop or give-way signs, traffic signals or a roundabout. Uncontrolled means the absence of any of these devices.

Left turn v right turn give-way rules
(more detail)

5. What is the change to the left turn v. right turn priority?

The Rule is amended to require a driver turning right at an intersection to give way to all oncoming traffic travelling straight ahead or turning left, unless a traffic sign or traffic signal requires the other driver to stop or give way.

Current rules


Vehicle turning left has to give way.

New rules from 25 March 2012


Vehicle turning right has to give way.

6. Why is this change being introduced?

It's expected this change will reduce intersection crashes and improve safety, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists.

The change will:

  • improve left-turn efficiency
  • encourage the use of left-hand lanes by straight-through traffic at multi-lane intersections
  • reduce the possibility of an intersection approach becoming jammed by left- turning vehicles giving way to right-turning vehicles who are waiting for straight-through traffic; and
  • reduce demands on drivers. Drivers of left-turning vehicles will only need to check whether there are pedestrians crossing the road into which they are turning, and whether there are any cyclists on the left of the turning vehicle. The driver of a right-turning vehicle will need to assess only whether there is a sufficient gap in the oncoming traffic.

7. Will this change cause delays to traffic turning right?

This change may potentially delay traffic turning right. This does have some safety implications because traffic waiting towards the middle of a road is at a higher risk of collision from behind than traffic waiting towards the left of the road.

However, with an increased number of right-turn bays on busier roads in recent years, this risk is much lower than it used to be. This change increases the efficiency of left-turns and, by encouraging through-traffic to stay towards the left of the road, away from oncoming traffic, also reduces collision risk.

Uncontrolled T-intersections

8. What is the change to the give-way rule at uncontrolled T-intersections?

The Rule is amended to require all traffic from a terminating road at an uncontrolled T-intersection to give way to all traffic on a continuing road.

Current rules


Vehicle turning right from continuing road has to give way.

New rules from 25 March 2012


Vehicle turning right from terminating road has to give way.

9. Why is this change being introduced?

Conflicting right turns at uncontrolled T-intersection

The T-intersection rule applies when there are conflicting right-turns at a T-intersection. At present, the right-turning vehicle on the continuing road (the top of the 'T') has to give way to the right-turning vehicle on the terminating road (the base of the 'T').

The change requires traffic from a terminating road at an uncontrolled intersection to give way to traffic on a continuing road. This also brings it into line with the current give-way rules at controlled T-intersections.

For the purposes of these rules, a T-intersection includes any three-legged intersection of a continuing and terminating road.

Driveways

A vehicle entering or exiting a driveway must give way to vehicles on the road and to cyclists and pedestrians on a cycle path or shared path (in addition to a footpath).

Other questions relating to the give-way rule changes

10. Are changes being made to the give-way rules at traffic signs or signals?

Yes, where the opposing signs or signals are the same ie, both drivers have a green light, or a stop or give way sign. If both drivers are controlled by signals or stop or give way signs, the new give-way rules will apply as explained above.

This means a driver facing a green traffic signal and turning right will have to give way to vehicles approaching from the opposite direction and lawfully turning or about to turn left. This also applies if both drivers are controlled by stop or give-way signs.

11. Are changes being made at intersections with roundabouts?

No.

12. Have the penalties for not complying with give-way rules changed?

While two new offence provisions have been created for:

  1. failing to observe the new T-intersection give-way rule; and
  2. failing to give-way to a vehicle on the roadway when exiting a driveway;

the penalties for breach of these rules is the same as applies for breach of the current give-way rules ie. a maximum fine of $1,000 on summary conviction or an infringement fee of $150, plus (in either case) 20 demerit points.

Background information on the give-way rules

13. What is the history of New Zealand's give-way rules?

Leading up to a change to the give-way rules in 1977, there was a significant number of uncontrolled intersections, traffic volumes were increasing and occasions when two vehicles were turning were becoming more frequent. In situations where two vehicles were turning right and neither had priority, driver courtesy had to prevail.

Since the give-way rules were changed in 1977, traffic turning left at an uncontrolled intersection has had to give way to right-turning traffic.

The legislation was designed to produce rules that were consistent and simple for road users to apply, and to formalise the priority for vehicles that were both turning right.

The introduction of those rules, however, coincided with a 2.5 percent increase in casualty crashes at intersections in the three years following the change.

The 'left turn v. right turn priority' has been an ongoing issue for debate, and revision of the rules was most recently considered when consulting on the draft Road User Rule in 2003. The changes put forward then are the same as those in the 2011 amendment Rule.

14. How do we know these changes will improve safety?

There was a 7.1 percent reduction in crashes in Victoria, Australia, following a similar give-way rule change in 1993 to the one that will happen on 25 March 2012 in New Zealand.

It's estimated that changing New Zealand's give-way rules will result in a reduction of about seven percent of relevant intersection crashes. It is estimated that the change will save one life and prevent 97 injuries (13 serious and 84 minor injuries) each year.

Overall, the give-way rule changes should produce more cautious decision-making and reduce the level of judgement needed in complex and dynamic traffic environments and promote smoother traffic flow.

Some of the other changes in the amendment Rule, which come into force on 1 October 2011

15. What changes are there for road users around 'T' or 'B' traffic signals?

Riders of motorcycles, mopeds and cycles using a bus lane that is controlled by a 'B' (bus) signal will be allowed to proceed on a white 'B' signal. These riders still need to comply with a yellow or red 'B' signal.

Until 1 October 2011, the Rule only allows buses using a special vehicle (bus) lane controlled by a 'B' signal to proceed on a white 'B' signal.

Unless excluded by signage, riders of motorcycles, mopeds and cycles are allowed to use the bus lane. Allowing these riders to proceed on a white 'B' signal will prevent them from blocking the way of a bus if there's a bus behind them, and improve traffic flow.

16. What is the change to the rule for drivers approaching a pedestrian crossing?

The Rule has been amended so that drivers approaching a pedestrian crossing controlled by a school patrol are required to stop only when a school patrol sign is extended, which is consistent with the school patrol rules set out in clause 3.9 of the Rule.

Given that school children are permitted to cross a controlled pedestrian crossing only when the school patrol sign is extended, the requirement for a driver to stop if there are children waiting to cross, but if the school patrol sign is not extended, is unnecessary and confusing.

17. What are the changes to the requirements relating to the use of child restraints and seat belts?

There must be a date of issue and an expiry date on medical certificates issued by medical practitioners on or after 1 October 2011for the purpose of excluding a vehicle occupant from being restrained by a seat belt or child restraint.

Currently the Rule allows a driver or passenger of a vehicle to be excluded for medical reasons from having to use a seat belt or from being restrained in a child restraint when travelling in the vehicle.

This requires production of a certificate from a registered medical practitioner stating that use of a seat belt or child restraint is impracticable or undesirable for medical reasons. Until 1 October 2011, there's no time limit on the medical certificate.

18. What is the change to speed limits relating to school buses?

There is an existing requirement of a 20km/h speed limit when passing a stationary school bus (in either direction) which is displaying a fixed school bus sign.

From 1 October 2011, drivers passing a stationary school bus displaying an optional flashing school bus sign will also be required to limit their speed to 20 km/h.

The bus driver can operate the flashing lights up to 20 seconds before the bus stops to drop-off or pick up school children, and up to 20 seconds after it has moved away from the place at which it stopped.

Although the 20 km/h speed restriction only applies when the school bus has stopped, the 20-second period before and after the bus has stopped will act as warning to motorists by creating a 'safety cocoon', warning other motorists that they are approaching an area where children are likely to cross the road, and to slow down.

Example of a school bus sign incorporating two alternatively flashing lights

Example of a school bus sign incorporating two alternatively flashing lights.

19. What changes are being made to the requirement for bus drivers to ensure passengers under five years are properly restrained by a child restraint?

This amendment more clearly stipulates that bus drivers driving vehicles with passenger seat belts and/or child restraints are not responsible for ensuring passengers of any age are restrained by them.

The Rule was amended in 2009 to clarify that bus drivers are not responsible for ensuring their passengers are properly restrained by a seat belt or child restraint.

However, the 2009 amendment applied only to passengers aged five years or older. It omitted to exclude bus drivers from the requirement to ensure that children under the age of five are properly restrained by an approved child restraint.

The change made through the 2011 amendment Rule ensures the intention of the 2009 amendment is achieved.

20. What changes are there for school buses travelling on school trips?

Under the current rules, a driver is not allowed to exceed 80 km/h when driving a school bus.

From 1 October, the definition of 'school bus' has been changed to exclude a bus travelling on a school trip if all the passengers are seated.

This means that drivers of the excluded buses can drive at 90km/h (the speed limit for buses specified in the Road User Rule), and would not need to display a school bus sign.

This amendment means schools will be able to hire newer, safer buses and coaches for longer school trips. Many newer buses are not equipped with school bus signs so they have been unable to be hired for school trips. The amendment will also assist with smoother traffic flow as these buses will be able to travel at the same speed as other heavy vehicles.

General

21. How can I obtain a copy of the amendment Rule?

A copy of the final amendment Rule will be available for purchase from bookshops that sell legislation or from Legislation Direct, telephone (04) 568 0005.

Final rules are available on our website (external link) .

A copy of the Cabinet paper confirming the Rule changes and an Analysis of Submissions are available at www.transport.govt.nz/legislation/regulations/LandTransport(RoadUser)AmendmentRule2011/ (external link) .

22. How can I obtain further information about the amendment Rule?

Information can be found at www.nzta.govt.nz/road-user-rule or by emailing info@nzta.govt.nz or calling the NZTA on the Road User Rule phone number - 0800 656 055.

Last updated: 16 September 2011

 

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