Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Giving way

Learning to drive on the left side of the road, from the right side of the car, was bad enough: Learning New Zealand’s give way rules was harder (starting with learning to say “give way” instead of “yield”). The rules are about to change.

The current rules, introduced in 1977, basically say that cars turning right always have right of way. The illustrations above, used to teach people the Road Code, illustrate the current rules.

In the left illustration, the two vehicles are both turning into the same lane. Under current rules, the red truck has right of way, and the blue car must give way. The new rules will reverse that and the red truck would have to wait.

The illustration at right shows the rules for a T intersection. Again, the red truck has right of way. Under the new rules, the truck will give way to the blue car, which is on the through-road.

New Zealand is the only country in the world with these rules. The government plans on implementing the changes before the Rugby World Cup in 2011, thereby making it easier, they think, for foreigners coming here for that event.

Meanwhile, the Automobile Association says that confusion over the rules leads to 2560 intersection crashes each year, one or two of which will be fatal. I have no idea what percentage of these crashes involve the manoeuvres illustrated above.

North Americans and Europeans struggling to get their heads around these rules may want to hold up a mirror to their screen—just remember if you drive here, you can’t do that. But you will need to learn to give way—how and when.

1 comment:

d said...

New Zealand may be the only place with this particular rule on the books, but a similar thing is common practice in Pittsburgh.

Imagine my shock when I first moved there and had people turning left very quickly in front of me at stoplight intersections that didn't have a turn signal on their side of the road! They call it the "Pittsburgh left" and consdered it a quaint/courteous thing to have (as in, I'm being the courteous one, even though I didn't know it was happening!).

Many people would gun it right before the light turned in order to be able to turn before the opposing side got going. It was dangerous and I hated it!!