Q: What do you never have, but can always give?
A: The right of way.
That’s a defensive driving joke. I didn’t say it was funny.
The give-way rules for intersections in NZ since 1977 are… Well… They were never any good. New Zealand, once again on the cutting edge of world’s best practices in road safety, is finally
amending trashing the 35 year-old rules which “coincided with a 2.5 percent increase in casualty crashes at intersections in the three years following the change.” Coincided??? Sure, it’s a coincidence. Whatever. At least the old rules are finally going in the bin. Better late then never, huh? Seriously, every other country in the world has ended that failed experiment over the last few decades, and NZ is dead last in getting rid of those give-way rules.
“The give-way rules, prior to this amendment, have placed complex demands upon road users, which can result in compromised road safety at intersections. Intersection crashes currently account for 20 percent of fatal and serious injury crashes.” – NZTA (of reported injury collisions involving cyclists, more than 75% are at intersections or driveways – thanks Glen!)
The new rules go into effect on Sunday 25 March 2012, at 5am, to be precise. Don’t wake me, I’m sure the new rules will still be there when I get up. The new rules are better, the rest of the world has proven that, but there will certainly be confusion as the new rules take effect. Confusion at intersections is usually bad, especially for bicyclists. So as the date approaches, and after the new rules take effect, be extra careful at intersections. As time goes on I’m confident that the new (and improved!) rules will be better for everyone, but the transition could be tricky.
Full details of the new give-way rules are available from NZTA. Key points:
- The rules apply to ALL vehicles, including bicycles
- There will be confusion leading up to the official change date
- There will be confusion following the official change date
- When in doubt, you can always yield the right of way – A friendly wave makes this intention clear