You're about to turn right, the vehicle travelling in the opposite direction is indicating left. According to the current rule, a vehicle turning right – usually across a stream of traffic – has precedence over a vehicle turning left. You proceed to take your right of way, but the other vehicle doesn't turn left and instead travels straight through. You collide. The police attended 46 injury crashes of this type in 2004.
Other safety risks include:
You're about to turn left but must give way to a vehicle waiting to turn right. The vehicle turning right, however, must give way to the vehicle following behind you that's travelling straight through. This leaves you in a bind: will the vehicle turning right give way to the vehicle behind you, or instead try and nip in ahead? The risk is that both left and right turners may try and nip in, resulting in a collision.
Cyclists attempting to ride straight through on a cycle-way inside the left-turning vehicle may not be obvious to the vehicle turning right who should give way.
To make roads safer, it has been recommended that New Zealand's right-hand turn rule be changed so that traffic turning right must give way to all traffic turning left. The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand calculated that changing the rule would:
- Prevent about 173 injury crashes each year, at a cost saving of $22 million per year
- Result in simpler and more predictable decisions for drivers, leading to smoother traffic flow
- Reduce confusion for tourists travelling in New Zealand and Kiwis travelling overseas
Those in favour of keeping the current right-hand turn rule argue that it's well-suited to New Zealand, where many roads are small and narrow, by clearing the middle of intersections as quickly as possible.
AA speaking up for motorists
The AA welcomes the announcement that our give way rule will be aligned with the rest of the world.
While the change may initially cause some confusion, it's a simple message that could be effectively communicated to motorists using an extensive education campaign. It's worth noting that the state of Victoria used to have this unusual right-hand turn rule, but in 1993 it was changed to bring Victorian road rules in line with other Australian states.
What AA Members are saying
In an August 2006 Survey:
- 56% of AA Members support or strongly support changing the right-hand turn rule
- 16% have no preference either way
- 29% oppose or strongly oppose any change to the rule
Did you know?
- The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand has calculated that changing New Zealand's right-hand turn rule would prevent about 173 injury crashes each year, and save $22 million each year.
- Two million international tourists visit New Zealand each year - many of whom drive. Changing New Zealand's right-hand turn rule would bring our give way rules more in line with what they're familiar with back home.