The NZ Transport Agency is reminding road users that a range of minor amendments to transport law came into force on 1 October.
The changes are included in the Land Transport (Road User) Amendment Rule 2011, signed into law by Transport Minister Steven Joyce earlier this year. The Road User Amendment Rule also contains the changes to New Zealand’s give-way rules which come into force on 25 March 2012.
The changes from 1 October 2011 are designed to improve traffic flow and safety, and include the following.
- Riders of motorcycles, mopeds and bikes, who are already allowed to use bus lanes (unless excluded by signage), will now also be able to proceed on a white ‘B’ (bus) signal. This will prevent riders blocking the way of waiting buses and will improve traffic flow.
- There is an existing requirement for drivers to reduce their speed to 20km/h when passing a stationary school bus, displaying a school bus sign that is stopped to pick up or drop off school children. From 1 October 2011, drivers passing a stationary school bus displaying a school bus sign with optional flashing lights, will need to reduce their speed to 20km/h. The bus driver will also be required to only operate the flashing lights for up to 20 seconds before and after the school bus has stopped. This will help to warn motorists that they need to take care and slow down as they are approaching an area where children are likely to be crossing the road.
- Drivers approaching a pedestrian crossing controlled by a school patrol will only be required to stop when the school patrol sign is extended. Patrols are trained to ensure children are only permitted to cross when the school patrol sign is extended so it is considered confusing and potentially dangerous for children to require drivers to stop when children are waiting behind the patrol sign but it has not been extended.
- Currently, a bus that is travelling on a school trip is required to display a school bus sign and is not able to exceed 80km/h. From 1 October 2011, buses travelling on school trips, where all passengers are seated, will not have to display a ‘school bus’ sign and will be permitted to travel at 90km/h, in line with other buses on the road. This will improve traffic flow and also means that a wider range of buses and coaches will be available for hire.
- From 1 October 2011 there must be a date of issue and an expiry date on medical certificates issued by medical practitioners exempting people from the requirements to use seat belts or child restraints. Currently there’s no requirement to give a time limit on the medical certificate.
More details on the Road User Rule changes are available at www.nzta.govt.nz/road-user-rule, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0800 656 055. This information will continue to be updated as we move towards the implementation date.