This Sunday at 5am our road rules will change. Whilst these changes are not significant, they are none the less important.
You might have seen the TV ads or received a pamphlet in the mail but for those who haven’t, it’s important to learn what you need to do in order for the changes to go smoothly. These changes to our give way rules will affect drivers, riders, pedestrians and cyclists so it’s important for everyone to participate in the learning process.
Why are these changes being made, sadly far too many people are hurt or killed throughout New Zealand. These changes will go some way to address this. In the last two years in Rotorua we are have been saddened by several tragic incidents on local roads, in particular where we lost some of our brightest young people. I still think of these young people and what their families have lost.
It is extremely important we continue to find the most efficient ways to stay safe on the road. Anything we can do to reduce accidents and injury is worthwhile. This includes making sure the road rules are up to scratch. At the moment, the current give way rules are complex, hard to understand, and out of step with the rest of the world.
We are making two simple changes. If you’re turning right, give way to vehicles turning left. At a T-intersection, give way to vehicles on the continuing road. Think - Top of the T goes before me. All other rules will remain the same.
It is estimated these changes will reduce turning crashes at intersections and prevent nearly 100 injuries a year, with a saving in social costs of $17 million. These changes are one of a number of actions under the Government’s Safer Journeys action plan which was adopted a few years ago.
Since the release of the strategy the Government has progressed actions for improving the safety of young drivers, to target drink drivers and other high-risk drivers. Progress has also been made on improving the safety of our roads and roadsides.
Some highly publicised changes which have been made since the strategy was announced in 2010 include raising the driving age to 16, allowing the New Zealand Transport Agency to make the restricted licence practical test more difficult and introducing a zero drink-drive limit for drivers under 20.
Many young New Zealanders do not have access to quality road safety education, either at school or through professional driver training. That’s why in 2012, we will continue to focus on young driver education opportunities and uptake. We’ve also increased the penalties for all dangerous driving, including drink and drug driving, causing death, and have given police the ability to extend a 28-day licence suspension for up to three continuous periods.
As a father of four children, one of whom will be asking to get his licence in a few years, these changes are extremely important in keeping my family safe. I ask you to study the new give way rules so that there are fewer road related tragedies in the Rotorua area. To learn more, visit www.giveway.govt.nz or call 0800 656 055.