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Land Transport Rule: Steering Systems 2001

This rule covers the design, construction and maintenance of steering systems in motor vehicles.

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

Land Transport Rules – questions & answers

Steering Systems Amendment 2010

1. What Rule is being amended?

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.

2. When will the amendment Rule come into force?

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.

3. Why is this Rule being amended?

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:

  • free of anomalies and unnecessary requirements;
  • not open to abuse; and
  • enforceable and safe.

4. Why is an amendment needed?

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:

  • light vehicles (of not more than 3500 kg gross vehicle mass (GVM)) less than 20 years old for the personal use of the importer, provided that the importer has owned and operated the vehicle overseas for at least 90 days;
  • light vehicles 20 years old or more;
  • motor vehicles with dual steering controls;
  • other specialist vehicles such a mobile cranes and hearses;
  • vehicles operated by diplomats and by ‘Operation Deep Freeze’ personnel;
  • vehicles previously exempted from the legislation prior to the coming into force of the 1998 Gazette notice (1 April 1998);
  • vehicles exempt from registration and licensing.

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.

5. Why is the entry of LHD vehicles into New Zealand restricted?

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.

6. What are the safety implications of driving LHD vehicles in a RHD environment?

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.

7. How will the amendment Rule impact on importers of light LHD vehicles less than 20 years old?

Currently, the registration of a light LHD vehicle is subject to the importer:

  • importing the vehicle for their own personal use;
  • registering only one such vehicle in a five-year period;
  • registering the vehicle in their name for at least five years after its first registration;
  • registering, owning and operating the vehicle outside New Zealand for 90 days or more prior to importation.

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.

Final rules are available on our website.