Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How to give way

The video above was produced because on Sunday New Zealand is changing two of its give way rules (translation for Americans: Two of the rules on who a driver yields to are changing). While one could argue that the new rules make more sense, particularly since New Zealand is apparently one of only two countries to do things the way we do now, it will nevertheless be difficult for some New Zealanders to adjust to because a huge percentage have been driving according to the old rules their whole driving lives.

Foreigners learning to drive in New Zealand, especially those from right-side-of-the-road countries like the US, often found the old rules confusing. Personally, I used to silently repeat a mantra of “give way to all traffic coming from my right”. That rule’s actually still the case for many situations (like in roundabouts, for example). But the two new rules, which seem to deviate from that simple mantra, at least make sense.

Naturally, some folks are predicting mayhem on the roads when the new rules take effect, an attitude I’ve mocked (in part because the change takes effect at 5am on Sunday, a time when few people are out driving around). I think any problems will be among those who hate change or who refuse to take responsibility for ensuring they’re up with all the road rules. Still, I think a longer ad campaign would have been helpful.

Things could have been worse: Originally, the change was to happen a week later, but that was April 1. Apparently the government was worried too many people would think it was a joke. The fact that they think so little of New Zealanders’ intelligence probably says a lot about this government, but that's another topic altogether.

At any rate, Kiwis tend to obey the rules, so I think everything will be fine. I certainly don’t expect to be posting anything about someone hitting me because they didn’t follow the new road rules. At least, I hope not.

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