This rule covers the design, construction and maintenance of steering systems in motor vehicles.
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This amendment Rule will make changes to Land Transport Rule: Steering Systems 2001. This Rule sets out safety requirements and standards covering the design, construction and maintenance of steering systems in motor vehicles.
The amendment Rule (and all its provisions) will come into force on 1 April 2010. Until that date the existing requirements in the Land Transport Rule: Steering Systems 2001 will continue to apply, and the current provisions for the importation of Left-Hand Drive vehicles will remain in effect.
The purpose of the amendment is to revise the current requirements relating to the certification and use on the road of left-hand drive (LHD) vehicles that are imported into New Zealand.
The amendment Rule aims to provide for a more efficient and effective LHD regime that is:
Vehicles in New Zealand are driven on the left-hand-side of the road. Regulation 70 of the Traffic Regulations 1976 requires that the steering column of a vehicle must be on the right-hand side of the vehicle. This regulation will shortly be revoked and it is intended that the right-hand drive steering requirement be maintained by including a restriction on certification of LHD vehicles in the Rule.
Although right-hand drive (RHD) vehicles are the norm, some LHD vehicles are exempted from this requirement and are allowed to be operated in New Zealand without having to be converted to RHD.
The Rule will allow all LHD vehicles that are currently registered in New Zealand to continue to be registered after 1 April 2010, so as not to disadvantage any current owners of such vehicles.
In addition, the Rule will provide a number of categories of LHD vehicles that will be allowed to be certified and operated in New Zealand. These categories are similar to the exemptions that are allowed under the current regime but have been revised to provide a more efficient and effective regime.
Until now, LHD vehicles have been allowed to be registered for use on New Zealand roads if they fall into one of the following categories:
Left-hand-drive vehicle enthusiasts suggested that the previous regime was unfair and prevented a variety of classic and collectable vehicles from being imported into New Zealand, largely due to onerous overseas ownership requirements.
Operating a LHD vehicle in a country where traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road is inherently less safe than operating a RHD vehicle. For this reason, there have always been restrictions around the importation of LHD vehicles. What this amendment will do is help ensure that the system around the importation of these vehicles is much better aligned with the needs of LHD vehicle enthusiasts while still retaining an acceptable level of safety.
The main risk to safety from operating a LHD vehicle in a RHD environment arises from the driver being seated near the side of the road, rather than the centre of the road. This limits the driver's view of other traffic on the road, particularly oncoming vehicles and those positioned to the right of the vehicle. Although this risk is lower in urban areas and divided highways, it's particularly high when overtaking.
In New Zealand, the numbers of LHD vehicles are currently very small in comparison to the size of the fleet and there is no evidence that LHD vehicles are over-represented in New Zealand crash statistics.
Currently, the registration of a light LHD vehicle is subject to the importer:
These requirements were originally intended to provide for ‘baggage vehicles’ (the term applied colloquially to vehicles brought into New Zealand by immigrants or returning New Zealand citizens). Because this is the only legal method of registering a modern LHD vehicle in New Zealand, it has been criticised for being inappropriate for importing modern collectable or special interest vehicles. The requirement to own and operate a vehicle overseas for at least 90 days prior to importation has been criticised as being impractical for New Zealand-based importers.