Give Way - Can’t We Just Do It?


The Government is today calling for public submissions on its plans to change the give way rules.

It’s planned this will come into effect early next year. Can’t we just get on with it?

Currently if you are turning left you have to give way to right turning traffic coming towards you. This change - as happens everywhere else you drive -  would reverse this so the left turning vehicle would have right of way in this situation. It is proposed to amend the rule to require a driver turning right at an intersection to give way to all oncoming traffic travelling straight ahead or turning left, unless a traffic sign or traffic signal requires the driver to stop or give way.

I don’t buy the fact the decision had to wait until the RWC was over because the masses needed to be educated on it and would not see the message if it was being promoted during the cup. Chances are more people than usual will be glued to the TV so a few adverts at halftime may be the easiest way to reach large numbers.

As for tourists they don’t expect the odd law exists so if it had been introduced by RWC time, they would never have know about the change. We are alone in having it. So they will think we are quaint or crazy.

Our current rules were adopted following a similar change made by the State of Victoria. In 1993, Victoria joined the rest of Australia by adopting the rule of right-turning traffic giving way to all oncoming traffic.

New Zealand is the only known jurisdiction in which our current rules apply.

Anyway the more I see the present law ignored, either people, especially immigrants, don’t know the stupid law exists or people deliberately say “stuff that’ and ignore it.

A most dangerous situation happens when a motorist does give way to you when you are turning right but as you go to turn some impatient idiot behind him won’t accept being slowed down in the process so overtakes at speed and comes right into your turning path.

The idea was to speed up the ability to turn right but it just now makes it an even more dangerous proposition.

NZTA agrees the proposal may potentially delay traffic turning right. This does have some safety implications because waiting traffic towards the middle of a road is at a higher risk of collision from behind than waiting traffic towards the left of the road. This was a motivation for the change to the give-way rules in 1977. However, it argues the increasing number of right-turn bays on higher volume roads, means this risk would be substantially reduced today. The proposal would increase the efficiency of left-turns and encourage through traffic to stay towards the left of the road away from oncoming traffic and this would also reduce collision risk.

The give way rules were introduced in 1977, which NZTA says was at a time when the country had many more uncontrolled intersections and rapidly increasing traffic volumes, leading to increasing conflicts between turning traffic.

Changes are also planned to the rule for T-intersections. This rule applies when there are conflicting right-turns at a T-intersection. Currently, the right-turning vehicle on the terminating road (the base of the ‘T’) has priority over the right-turning vehicle on the through road (the top of the ‘T’). The change will require traffic from an uncontrolled terminating road to give way to traffic on a through road.

Public submissions can be made here until the end of June.




  1. Carl says:

    I could be wrong, but from memory we are the only country in the world that has this “stupid” rule.

    driving here in aus, I always get confused, because I still think im at home and have to give way, when really and as correct as it is, I have right of way!

  2. AKT says:

    @Carl The post states we are the only country. fact!

  3. Kon says:

    When we followed Victoria we only have ourselves to blame, I note that the other six states and two territories weren’t in any rush!

  4. Kon says:

    Correction I know there’s only six we’re de facto.

  5. Carl says:

    Vic probably has it because of the trams, which would make sense because you have to “hook” turn anyway.

  6. DanC says:

    Yes, our old fashioned rules are silly. It’s hard when out of the country to remember that’s for sure!

  7. Ian says:

    The present rule is a very good one. Of course traffic turning right should have the right of way given that they are having to cross opposing traffic and should be given the advantage.

  8. rtc says:

    Funnily enough most Australians seem to think they have the rule, speaking to people from Queensland when I was in Melbourne all claimed they had the rule and people from Melbourne weren’t sure. So they may not have the rule but people there still seem to think they do.

  9. Paul Q says:

    What’s annoyed me about some of the press coverage of this is they have been stating things like “Changing the rules for turning vehicles from giving way to the right to giving way to the left…” This was on today. I’ve seen similar misinterpretations on this before. I emailed NZTA and they very quickly got back to me stating they would contact them to correct it.

  10. Paul in Sydney says:

    Just get rid of it!!!

    It does my head in every time I come home, that was the weekend just gone, I’m still getting over it

  11. max says:

    “It’s planned this will come into effect early next year. Can’t we just get on with it?”

    No, because first we have to get an election out of the way (can’t do anything remotely controversial before that, it’s the law!).

    Also, we get to have one last year of confusing the heck out of all the overseas visitors!

  12. LucyJH says:

    ah! I find this whole thing so confusing. I think little pictures don’t cut it for the more spatially challenged among us…they are going to have to do computer simulations (kind of like google maps) of what it looks like from where you’re sitting in the car to help me grasp it.

  13. Jeremy says:

    computer simulations in 3D?… Nah, I don’t have a issue with the current rules, city roads are pretty well controlled by giveway and stop lines/signs. So I don’t think it’s going to matter either way. Driving is not hard, a bit of good judgment of speed and driving lines and making your intentions obvious to other drivers and also breathe.

  14. Kris Gledhill says:

    It is a very simple rule, since you just treat every junction like a roundabout and so give way to the right. So, point 1, drivers who cannot understand it should not be driving. Point 2 is that the petrol-heads seem to hate it, which suggests that it might be a rule which has some value. Point 3 is that its purpose is to create gaps in the traffic to prevent traffic building up behind traffic doing right turns, which in turn would put pressure on right-turning drivers to take chances. Seems sensible to me, so I cannot see any valid reason to change it.


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