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Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices 2004

This rule covers requirements for the design, construction, installation, operation and maintenance of traffic control devices, and functions and responsibilities of road controlling authorities.

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 Rules – questions & answers

Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices (Rule 54002)

1. What are traffic control devices?

Traffic control devices are signs, markings, signals, islands and other devices placed on or adjacent to roads, footpaths and cycle paths that are used to instruct, warn, guide or advise road users.

2. Who will the rule affect?

The rule mainly affects road controlling authorities (local councils and Transit New Zealand) and indirectly affects all road users, including drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

3. What is in the rule?

Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices (the Traffic Control Devices Rule) sets out requirements for safe, appropriate and consistent installation of traffic control devices by road controlling authorities nationwide. It aims to ensure traffic control devices are consistent throughout New Zealand, so that road users know what to do in areas which aren't familiar to them.

Most areas already conform to the requirements in the rule.

4. What are the most significant changes in the rule?

  1. All road controlling authorities will be required under the rule to mark lanes to direct the flow of traffic on roundabouts. This will require traffic entering and leaving any multi-laned roundabout to follow a clearly marked path, which will reduce the likelihood of a vehicle crossing another's path and causing a crash and will make roundabouts easier to use. One method of road marking that meets this new criterion is Alberta marking (see diagram below).

    Figure: 'Alberta' marked roundabout

    At present, multi-lane roundabouts do not always have these markings and this can cause confusion and is a risk to road safety. Approximately three people are killed and 265 injured each year in crashes at roundabouts.
  2. The requirements for the marking and use of special vehicle lanes (see Question 13) on a roadway will be clarified for road controlling authorities. Setting a national standard for special vehicle lanes will help the creation of greater consistency in driver behaviour throughout New Zealand.
  3. Road controlling authorities will have to review their pedestrian crossings to ensure they are no more than 15 metres wide. A pedestrian crossing can only be wider than 15 metres if it's interrupted by a raised traffic island (in which case it will be considered as two separate crossings) or if it is controlled by traffic lights.

    Research shows that pedestrian crossings that span wide roadways and multi-lane roads are a safety risk to pedestrians, particularly when a vehicle passes in front of them on a crossing with a centre-line. Approximately, three pedestrians are killed and 105 injured each year in collisions with vehicles on pedestrian crossings. Feedback from the Police and councils indicates that drivers and pedestrians are often unable to see whether the pedestrian crossing has been broken by a centre-line – particularly when it's dark or raining. This makes it more difficult to judge whether a driver is legally obliged to give way to a pedestrian.
  4. The rule incorporates many developments in traffic engineering, eg the use of 'keep clear' markings and hand-held 'stop' signs which are commonly used but had no legal backing prior to this.
  5. The rule also includes 'future proofing' provisions to allow for the use of some new technologies being used overseas, eg variable message signs, reflectorised material in signs/markings and ramp signals (a device to control the flow of entry onto a motorway). The rule would ensure consistency in the use of those new technologies.

5. Why are these changes being made?

The Traffic Control Devices Rule contains standards and guidelines to provide safe, appropriate and consistent use of traffic signs and roads nationwide. It will help ensure traffic control devices contribute to the safe and effective control of traffic on our roads. Updating and clarifying the law on traffic control devices will also help when future traffic management techniques and technology that are used successfully in other countries are considered for use in New Zealand.

6. What will road users need to do as a result of the Traffic Control Devices Rule?

Road users are indirectly affected by the rule, but any changes they need to make to their driving is outlined in the Land Transport (Road User) Rule (the Road User Rule), which clarifies the responsibilities of all road users including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

7. What does the Traffic Control Devices Rule aim to do?

The Traffic Control Devices Rule aims to:

  • contribute to road safety by specifying traffic control devices that provide clear and consistent messages throughout the country, so that road users can then quickly recognise common situations on the road and make safe responses
  • ensure traffic control devices are appropriately designed and installed so they are not a hazard to road users
  • ensure road controlling authorities can be held accountable for good traffic management and have the authority to remove road control devices that are not authorised or are not safe or fit for their purpose.

8. The rule requires some new traffic control devices. Who will pay the extra cost?

In most cases, there should be no additional cost. For example, many markings and signage already conform to the rule. In the case of roundabouts, new ones will be built in the latest format, while existing installations will be upgraded as part of councils' normal maintenance schedules.

9. Who can install traffic control devices?

In most circumstances, they can only be installed by road controlling authorities or their authorised agent (eg road construction companies).

10. Won't the new provisions need substantial re-engineering of roundabouts?

No, see Question 8.

11. How will road-controlling authorities know how to comply with these new requirements?

Land Transport New Zealand (NZ Transport Agency) will provide guidance material for all road controlling authorities.

12. Will there be enough time to ensure the roundabout markings are changed before the rule is implemented?

Councils will be able to phase in the new requirements over the next two years. This is because there will be minimal risks to safety in doing this, and to require councils to implement them immediately would pose an unnecessary cost to ratepayers.

13. What are special vehicle lanes?

A special vehicle lane is any lane marked on the roadway for exclusive use by cyclists or specific classes of vehicle, eg buses in bus lanes and vehicles carrying minimum numbers of people in a transit lane.

14. Will cycle lanes be introduced around New Zealand?

Yes. As part of their ongoing commitment to encouraging sustainable transport modes, central and local government will be looking to increase cycling facilities in future.

15. What is a transit lane?

A transit lane is a lane that is reserved for the use of passenger service vehicles, motor vehicles carrying a minimum number of passengers, cyclists and motorcyclists (unless specifically excluded by a sign at the start of that lane). This usually operates at peak periods only.

16. How do we go about getting a traffic island installed on our local crossing?

If you believe that a pedestrian crossing in your area should be divided by a traffic island, you should contact your local council.

17. Has there been any consultation with the public and stakeholders?

A discussion draft was circulated to interested groups (largely, road controlling authorities) in 2002. The yellow draft of the rule was circulated for public comment in early 2003. A technical advisory group (which was convened by the Land Transport Safety Authority (LTSA) (now NZ Transport Agency) and represented a wide spectrum of expertise) and some special technical groups (for example, the National Traffic Signal Committee) have contributed to the development of this rule. The LTSA considered the input from technical working groups and submissions from consultation when drafting the rule.

18. Where can I get a copy of the rule?

A copy of the rule can be purchased from selected Bennett's, Paper Plus and Whitcoulls retailers and other bookshops that sell government legislation. A copy can also be obtaining by contacting the rules printers and distributors Wickliffes Limited on Freephone 0800 226 440. You can obtain further information about the rule by calling the NZ Transport Agency Helpdesk on 0800 699 000.

Final rules are available on our website.

19. What is the legal basis for the rule?

The Land Transport Act 1998 allows for the Minister of Transport to make Land Transport Rules. Rules are a relatively new form of legislation, which allow specific legal requirements to be drafted with direct input from people with technical expertise in the areas to which the rule relates. Land Transport Rules are generally drafted by the LTSA and, like regulations, have the force of law.

20. When does the rule take effect?

The rule takes effect on 27 February 2005. It will support a number of changes proposed in the Land Transport (Road User) Rule, which also comes into effect on 27 February 2005.