Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The right hand intersection rule to change in 2012

One of the peculiarities of NZ's road rules - which came into being in 1977 - is being changed to match the rest of the world in 2012. The government has confirmed it is changing the "right hand rule" for drivers at intersections. This rule bascially says that when you are turning left at an intersection and you are not governed by traffic lights, then you have to give way to traffic approaching from your right or vehicles coming from the opposite direction which are turning right.

The rule change will mean drivers turning left will be able to go first at an intersection, rather than giving way to traffic turning right.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says "Our current give way rules for turning vehicles are confusing and out of step with the rest of the world. Research shows changing the rules could reduce relevant intersection crashes by seven percent."

How come it has taken 33 years for Government bureaucrats to work that out? The existing rule was adopted from the Australian state of Victoria which had introduced it to assist trams on Melbourne's streets, according to the Automobile Association (AA). But Victoria changed back in 1993 and experienced a decline in intersection crashes as a result.

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.

Matching the rest of the world might also help many of the thousands of New Zealanders who head overseas and jump into cars, blithely turning right at the first opportunity and wondering why they cop either abuse, or the front of the left turning car.

It is estimated changing the rules to align with other countries will reduce the social cost of accidents by about $17 million a year.

It would improve pedestrian safety at intersections, where there has been an 88% increase since 2000 in pedestrians being hit, many of them hit by a turning vehicle.

AA spokesman Mike Noon said changing the present "ridiculous" rule would require a $2 million driver education programme and engineering changes, such as re-phasing lights and changing road markings in some places, which could cost $1 million.

However, he welcomed the change.

"It's more simple than the current rule. We find people don't obey the rule and some don't know what to do."


Myrtone said...

The rule is said be confusing and many of those people do readily accept that many peolpe don’t even know the rule. I think that idea in this case is that given that many people are caught out by this rule and New Zealand is the only country with it, many people thus assume there is a good reason the rest of the world doesn’t use it.
Say there is only one foreign visitor on the road and you are the one that runs into one of the locals, are they going to be in less sore. But if you drive on the right in your own country, should you really be driving in New Zealand on a US license? True or false? If we let people drive on a foreign license, there should not be any rules that confuse them. And by the way, our hook turn only applies to motor vehicles at very few intersections where it is clearly signed.
As the rules currently stand, those turning right give way to straight ahead traffic and those turning left give way to right turners as well as pedestrians crossing the side street, this means that left turners need to make greater use of their visual field. Also, if you are turning left, whether you are requried to give way to the other vehicle depends on whether it is turning right, if you are going straight, you are not requried to give way to any opposing traffic, whether or not it is turing across your path, this means that a left turner may fail to give way if they fail to recognsie the other driver’s intention to turn right.

Myrtone said...

Regarding New Zealand’s medical standards for driving, the minimum visual field is only 140 degrees, whether for personal or commercial use, but the normal human visual field is more like 170 degrees. The average visual acuity of the healthy eye is between 20/12 and 20/16, but the minimum for driving in New Zealand for personal/non-commercial use is 20/40 in at least one eye, for commercial licences it is 20/30 in at least one eye. Stereopsis is not mentioned at all, but colour vision is. There is no explicit requirement for colour vision. But:

Some studies indicate that individuals with a protan defect have a reduced visual distance for detecting vehicle tail lights and red traffic signal lights, and may have an increased nose-to-tail collision rate.

Reduced visual distance for detecting brake lights is going to be much more of a problem if one also can’t see 3D, and how much it reduces that visual distance may depend on visual acuity. The visual distance for seeing brake lights and vehicle tail lights is probably more critical when driving at night and at times of restricited visibility than on a clear day, since designated drivers are likely to be driving at night, would it be best not to select a protan as a designated driver. I have wondered whether protanopia may even reduce visual distance for detecting turn signals, particularly if the turning vehicle has its headlights on, making the left turn yield rule even more confusing.
No mention is made as to whether driver vision test scores are notified in the license data, or whether visual impairments that do not legally disqualify one from driving are notified on a license. And would a recently successful moting license applicent voulenteer information about driving difficulties, and would you expect a visually impaired driver involved in an accident to voulenteer information about their visual ability, do police rountienly ask about vision problems?
True or false? Warning a tourist about the right hand turn rule may be like warning a blind person to make a full stop when they see a red light, if that visitor has a vision problem that nevertheless does not stop then from being “good” drivers in their own country, at least for personal/non-commercial purposes.
If there is straight ahead traffic behind the left turning vehicle, the right turning vehicle is compelled to wait, the left turning vehicle slipping round the corner as long as there is room for the straight ahead traffic to overtake, but it mean that the right turning driver needs to check for vehicles behind the red car that are going straight, could this be a difficulty for the stereoblind?