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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.

Rule versions

  • The ‘Current rule’ will give you the most up-to-date version of the Rule and any amendments made to it. We recommend this as your reference point if you want to read the most current information.
  • The ‘Original rule and amendments’ will give you the very first version of the rule (as it was when it was first created) as well as links to all amendments made to it over time. We recommend this page as your reference page if you want to research the history of the rule.

Note: Both of these pages will also provide links to the consultation material – such as summary of submissions and FAQs (questions and answers) – for each version and amendment.

Questions and answers

Questions and answers are provided to accompany a new rule or amendment when they are signed. These and other consultation documents on this page have not been updated to take into account any later rule amendments and are retained for historic interest only.

Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004

Summary of changes

The links in the main table link to questions and answers.

Subject Provision

Pedestrian crossings

Drivers now have to give way to pedestrians on both sides of a pedestrian crossing unless the crossing is divided by a raised traffic island.

Vehicles blocking pedestrian crossings

Before proceeding across a pedestrian crossing, a driver must ensure there is enough clear space on the other side, so as not to block that pedestrian crossing.

Passing at school crossing points

Drivers must not pass other vehicles that have slowed or stopped at school crossing points.
SPECIAL VEHICLE LANES Special vehicle lanes

Drivers must not use a special vehicle lane unless operating a vehicle of a type that is permitted to use that lane. The only exceptions are:
  1. if a driver needs to cross the lane in order to turn or park clear of the lane
  2. if the vehicle is too big or the load being carried is too large to be contained within one lane
  3. if the lane that the driver is entitled to use is obstructed.
If any of these reasons apply, the driver must use the lane safely, for as short a time as possible, giving way to, and not impeding, vehicles that are entitled to use that lane.

In addition, a person must not stop, stand, or park a vehicle in any special vehicle lane, unless that vehicle is entitled to use that lane and stopping is permitted by signs or markings.
EMERGENCY STOPPING LANE USE Motorways and emergency stopping lanes

Drivers must only use the emergency stopping lane on a motorway in a genuine emergency
SLOW VEHICLE BAYS Slow vehicle bays

Drivers who are driving slowly and impeding other traffic must use slow vehicle bays if available.
KEEPING LEFT Keeping left

Drivers must keep left on multi-lane roads unless turning, passing or the left lane is blocked.


Approaching multi-lane roundabouts

  • Drivers going more than halfway around the roundabout must approach in the right-hand lane or from any lane(s) specified for that purpose (by lane use arrows)
  • Drivers going halfway around the roundabout must use any lanes marked for that purpose
  • Drivers going less than halfway around the roundabout must approach in the left-hand lane or from any lane(s) specified for that purpose.

Signalling at roundabouts

  1. Before entering a roundabout drivers must indicate:
    • Left, if intending to exit by the first left
    • Right, if going more than halfway around
    • If going straight ahead, don't indicate on entry.
  2. Drivers must give way to traffic that will cross their path from their right when entering the roundabout.
  3. Drivers then need to signal left as they pass the exit before the one they intend taking.
EXCESSIVE NOISE Noise in and on a vehicle

Operating equipment in or on a vehicle in such a way that creates excessive noise is prohibited. This applies to noisy stereos and external speakers as well as revving engines noisily.

BUSES Use of doors on buses

Buses with passengers on board should not be in motion at any time that the door or doors are open.

Exemptions for checking seat belts for drivers of buses

Bus drivers are not legally responsible for checking passengers are using seat belts, if seat belts are available.
USE OF LIGHTS Vehicle lights and dazzle

Drivers must not use their vehicle lights in a way that dazzles, confuses, distracts or in any way endangers other road users.

Vehicle fog lamps

Vehicle fog lamps must only be used when conditions are such that your visibility is severely reduced – eg by snow or thick fog. You must not use fog lamps under clear atmospheric conditions as you could dazzle other road users.

Work lamps

You may only use a work lamp on your vehicle to illuminate a work scene and you must be stationary or travelling slowly.


Beacons may only be legally used by the following vehicles under the following circumstances:
  • a blue beacon or a red beacon used by a police vehicle
  • a red beacon on a emergency vehicle being used in an emergency
  • a green beacon fitted to a vehicle operated by a registered medical practitioner or registered nurse or registered midwife while on urgent medical service
  • a white forward-facing beacon fitted to an emergency vehicle being operated in an emergency and that is also operating a red beacon or a blue beacon or both a red beacon and a blue beacon
  • an amber beacon or a purple beacon fitted to a vehicle operated in compliance with Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass 2002 (the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule)
  • an amber beacon fitted to a vehicle operated in accordance with a traffic management plan approved by a road controlling authority
  • an amber beacon fitted to a vehicle for use when the vehicle is stationary or being driven slowly and where the operation of the beacon is necessary to warn other road users of a hazard due to the presence of the vehicle or of persons carrying out a lawful activity on the road on the road in the vicinity of the vehicle.
Hazard lights
Non-commercial vehicles should use hazard lights only for safety purposes to indicate a temporary hazard to traffic, for example, when your vehicle has broken-down and you are awaiting assistance, or on a vehicle that’s being towed.

Goods vehicles may use hazard lights when double-parked for trade purposes and taxi drivers use hazard lights when in distress.

CARRYING LOADS AND TOWING Carrying loads and towing

Light vehicle towing speed limit increase

The speed limit for light vehicles towing trailers will increase from 80–90 km/h. (At the same time, the Police will be enforcing a reduced discretionary tolerance of 5 km/h over any applicable speed limit (previously 10 km/h).)
Unsafe loads

If you’re carrying a load, you need to ensure it is safely loaded and secured and is not likely to risk injuring, annoying or distracting other road users, or damaging property.
Riding dangerously

Riding in or on an object which is being transported on a vehicle in a manner or position that may cause injury is prohibited.
Tow couplings

A driver must ensure the trailer is safely and securely attached by an adequate coupling to the rear of the motor vehicle.
Towing motorcycles or all terrain vehicles

A driver must not tow a motorcycle or an all terrain vehicle (such as a quad bike) unless it is mechanically disabled.
Brake connection between vehicles

All drivers towing other vehicles must ensure the brake connection between vehicles are correctly connected so that the brakes of towing and towed vehicles operate as intended. (this links with equipment requirements in the Heavy Vehicles Rule).

'P' parking restrictions will now apply on weekends unless stated otherwise
Parking on loading zones

The new rule allows for some loading zones to be restricted by councils so that you would not be able to leave your vehicle unattended at any time – for example, at airport drop-off points. This prevents congestion and addresses the security risks associated with unattended vehicles being left in these types of areas.
Parking on traffic islands and flush medians

You may not park on a flush median (a median strip which is flush with the road) or traffic island under any circumstances.
Parking vehicles off roadway

In general, it is not permitted to park on cultivated grass areas (grass or gardens that have been tended and cared for).
Use of doors

It is illegal to cause a hazard to any person by opening or closing the door of your motor vehicle, or by leaving the door open. This applies to both drivers and passengers and both the drivers' and passengers' side – eg leaving a door open which blocks the pavement.
Parking on footpaths

You may park a cycle, mobility device and wheeled recreational device on a footpath unless there is a sign that says otherwise – however, you must ensure that it is not in the way of other users of the footpath.

The Road User Rule says you must maintain a safe following distance behind the vehicle in front of you (see below) and if going more than 50 km/h, you must leave sufficient room in front for a vehicle passing you to be able to safely move into the gap. The legal minimum following distances set out in the Road User Rule are:
  • 16 m, if travelling at a speed of 40–49 km/h
  • 20 m, if travelling at a speed of 50–59 km/h
  • 24 m, if travelling at a speed of 60–69 km/h
  • 28 m, if travelling at a speed of 70–79 km/h
  • 32 m, if travelling at a speed of 80 km/h or more.
HELMETS Helmet requirements and standards

The Road User Rule sets out who has to wear a helmet, what standards helmets need to meet and under what circumstances they need to be worn.

Other provisions relating to helmets:

Motor cycle, moped and all terrain vehicle helmets

The current regulations are updated to reflect the standards that are approved and explain which version of the standard is applicable.

All motorcycle riders will now need to apply to the Director for an exemption if they are unable to find an approved helmet that fits.

Obligations on people in sidecars, or people in trailers towed by bicycles, to wear helmets

Current regulations do not require a person being carried in a motorcycle sidecar, or a person in a trailer towed by a bicycle, to wear a helmet. The LTSA view is that a person riding in a sidecar or bicycle trailer is just as vulnerable to serious head injuries as the rider or pillion rider if the motorcycle is involved in an accident. The proposed Rule addresses this anomaly.

Helmet use on all terrain vehicles eg quad bikes

All terrain vehicle users must wear motorcycle helmets if driving on the road (however farmers using the road to get from one part of the farm to another are exempted).

SHARED ZONES Shared zones

A driver of a vehicle must give way to a pedestrian within a shared zone. Vehicles include cyclists, so cyclists must also give way to pedestrians in a shared zone.

A pedestrian in a shared zone must not ‘unduly impede’ the passage of any vehicle in a shared zone. This means that they should not deliberately block the path of an approaching vehicle. Instead, they should keep to the side of the shared zone, so that vehicles can pass them easily even though they are required to give way to pedestrians.

MOBILITY DEVICES Mobility devices

A mobility device is defined as a device that is designed specifically for people who need assistance to be mobile – this includes a motorised wheelchair or mobility scooter.

In the same way as pedestrians, mobility device users must use the footpath where one is readily accessible. They must otherwise stay as close as possible to the edge of the road. They must drive in a careful and considerate manner and at a speed that doesn't cause a hazard to other users of the footpath.

In addition, pedestrians must not block the way of mobility device users unnecessarily.

RECREATIONAL DEVICES Wheeled recreational devices

A wheeled recreational device is defined as a device with wheels which is powered primarily by human power (it may have a motor, as long as it is 200 watts or less). It includes scooters, skateboards, inline skates etc.

Wheeled recreational device users must ride in a careful and considerate manner and at a speed that doesn’t cause a hazard to other users of the footpath or road. As before, they are permitted to use the footpath or road, but when using the footpath, they must give way to everyone else on the footpath.

ANIMALS ON ROADS Leading animals by riders

If you are leading an animal on the road eg horse, dog or goat, you must ‘exercise due care’ – which basically means you must take all reasonable steps to avoid causing harm to other road users by not letting an animal run out onto the road causing a traffic hazard.

Ridden and driven animals

The rule says drivers must take care to avoid causing harm to other road users. This means you should slow down and not sound your horn if an animal is being ridden or led along the road and could be affected by the noise.

Moving untethered animals on roads

If you are moving untethered animals on the road, you must also take care to avoid harming other road users.


An outrigger is a projecting frame extending laterally beyond the main structure of a vehicle that supports and stabilises an extending part e.g. a crane. You must not drive a vehicle fitted with an outrigger on a road unless the outrigger is fully retracted and locked.

DUAL STEERING Dual steering

You must not drive in the left-hand driving position of a vehicle with dual steering unless you are using it for its intended purpose, eg teaching someone to drive, or unless you are testing the vehicle.

VINTAGE VEHICLE EMISSIONS Emission of smoke or vapour from motor vehicles

Under the Road User Rule, vehicles must not emit smoke or vapour for ten seconds or more – vehicles are exempt from this requirement where the engine is original equipment for the vehicle and its design prevents the vehicle from complying without disproportionate effort and expense. However the driver has to produce documentation proving this.

FLASHING YELLOW TRAFFIC SIGNAL Flashing yellow traffic signal

A traffic light flashing yellow indicates an uncontrolled intersection, eg the normal give way rules apply.
GIVING WAY TO VEHICLES FLASHING BEACONS Making way for vehicles with flashing beacons or using a siren

Drivers must make way for vehicles displaying flashing lights or using a siren. Vehicles with flashing lights include Police, fire service, ambulance and other emergency service vehicles. You must also make way for vehicles being escorted by enforcement officers.

You must also make way for other emergency vehicles using flashing beacons such as medical practitioners and you must also give way to wide vehicles accompanied by pilot vehicles displaying flashing beacons.

ENTERING/ EXITING DRIVEWAYS Giving way when entering or exiting driveway

Drivers entering or exiting a driveway must give way to road users on the footpath
HANDHELD STOP SIGNS Hand-held stop signs

A driver approaching a hand-held stop sign must stop before reaching the sign and must not proceed until the person holding the sign removes it or displays a ‘go’ or ‘slow’ sign towards the driver.

CYCLISTS ISSUES Cyclists issues

Traffic signals, limit lines and cyclists

Limit lines are the white lines that indicate where motorists should stop at an intersection. The rule allows cyclists to wait safely at a cycle limit line (marked in front of a limit line) so they can be seen easily by other motorists and can get a head start when the traffic lights turn green.

Riding abreast

In a controlled race situation, an exemption is given to the law that cyclists must ride no more than two abreast.
Cycle lights

Cyclists may now use reflective clothing instead of pedal reflectors.
HEAVY VEHICLES Heavy vehicles

Speed limit increase

A new regulation which increased the speed limit for heavy vehicles towing trailers (truck trailer units and A trains) from 80 to 90 km/h in May 2004 will be replaced by a corresponding provision within the Road User Rule.

Static roll threshold

The Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule brought in a static roll threshold (SRT) measurement to check the stability of heavy vehicles. The RUR will enable enforcement of this requirement on the road using a static roll threshold compliance certificate if the load height and gross mass limits differ from that on the certificate of loading.
LEVEL CROSSINGS Level crossings

Drivers must not proceed across a level crossing if their exit is blocked by stationary traffic.

Drivers must give way to an approaching rail service vehicle that is within 800 metres of a level crossing.
SPEED LIMIT EXCEPTIONS/ EXEMPTIONS This provision confirms drivers must not exceed speed limits and sets out in what circumstances some vehicles are exempt, eg emergency vehicles. It also confirms that some vehicles have a lower speed limit than the posted speed limit in some circumstances, eg heavy vehicles and vehicles towing trailers.
UNSAFE VEHICLES Unsafe vehicles

A driver must not operate a vehicle in a condition, or in a manner, that causes or is liable to cause –
  1. injury to any person or animal, or
  2. annoyance to any person, or
  3. damage to any property, or
  4. distraction to the driver.
Means of entrance and exit

A driver must not operate a motor vehicle on a road unless that motor vehicle has a ready means of entrance and exit for every person that is carried in it.

Last updated: 11 May 2005