About driving

Key driving skills

Keeping left

In New Zealand, vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road.

It is essential to keep left, because if you don't you are likely to cause a head-on crash. This is one of the worst types of crash, as it almost always results in death or serious injury.

What is a road?

The legal definition of a road is very broad. It includes not only streets and highways, but also any place the public has access to – including bridges, beaches, riverbeds, car parks, reserve lands, wharves and road shoulders.

Because of this, you should apply road rules at all times when you're driving, even when you aren't on a public road.

Keeping left on a laned road

Most roads in New Zealand have lanes marked on them with a white line or raised studs.

When driving on a laned road, it is important to drive your vehicle within your lane.

Where there are two or more lanes on your side of the centre line:

  • keep in the left-hand lane as much as you can
  • don't use the lane closest to the centre line if you will hold up other vehicles.

The lane closest to the centre line should only be used when:

  • you want to pass another vehicle
  • you want to turn right
  • the left-hand lane is full with other traffic or is blocked.
Picture of laned road

Laned road

Keeping left on an unlaned road

An unlaned road is a road with no marked white lines or raised studs.

To stay well out of the way of oncoming vehicles, always keep as close as possible to the left side of the road.

Picture of unlaned road

Unlaned road


Driving tip

When driving on an open road with a centre line, your driver's seat should normally be in the centre of your half of the road (except when driving a left-hand drive vehicle).

Reduce your speed to stay in this position when driving around bends.

Keeping left on a curve

Keep well to the left when you are driving around a curve (a bend in the road), whether you are on a laned or unlaned road.

This is particularly important because you can't always see what's around the corner. As well as other vehicles coming the other way, there could be cyclists, horses, pedestrians or an object on your side of the road.

Picture of curve in laned road Picture of curve in unlaned road

Curves in the road

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Last updated: 3 October 2012