With three new roundabouts opened in the Far North - and one under construction - motorists are being urged to brush up on the road rules governing roundabouts to prevent accidents.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency said the new roundabouts in Northland are working to improve safety and ease congestion, but motorists need to know the road rules for using the new layouts.
Three new roundabouts became operational in Northland before Christmas – at Waipapa on State Highway 10, in Kawakawa at the intersection of SH1 and SH11 and at Puketona Junction, the intersection of SH10 and SH11. A fourth roundabout is under construction on SH1 in Kaitaia and will be operational by the end of the month.
The three roundabouts already in use are at locations heavily used by locals as well as visitors to the area – all three are on the Twin Coast Discovery Route, Northland's main tourist artery.
"We've had a lot of very positive feedback about the difference the roundabouts are making to people's driving experience in Northland," Waka Kotahi national manager infrastructure delivery Andrew Thackwray said.
"At Puketona, drivers tell us the roundabout is much safer than the old 'T' intersection, especially for traffic turning right off SH10 to go to the Bay of Islands."
The roundabouts at Kawakawa and Waipapa have significantly reduced congestion.
"In Kawakawa, traffic no longer queues through the town centre. And in Waipapa, the reduced congestion and queuing has eased driver impatience so there's no need to take unnecessary risks or try short cuts."
The roundabouts were designed with a safe system approach as Waka Kotahi is committed to Vision Zero, which aspires to a New Zealand where no one is killed or seriously injured on our roads.
Waka Kotahi is working with Police, local government and others to deliver Road to Zero, the Government's road safety strategy for 2020-2030. Road to Zero aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 40 per cent over the next 10 years.
Thackwray said it's critical that drivers, who may be unfamiliar with roundabouts, understand the basic rules to ensure the new road layouts are safe for all road users.
"A major issue at roundabouts is uncertainty – drivers being unsure of what they are meant to do, and what other drivers are intending to do."
The roundabouts at Kawakawa, which cost $6 million to build, and Puketona ($15m) are among 13 regional state highway projects funded through the Government's NZ Upgrade Programme and led by Waka Kotahi to boost infrastructure, productivity and save lives.
The $24.5m roundabout and associated improvements project in Waipapa is funded by the Government's Provincial Growth Fund ($9m) and Waka Kotahi through the National Land Transport Programme ($15.5m).
The Road Code has clear rules for roundabouts:
• Slow down as you come up to the roundabout and be prepared to give way. Even going straight ahead involves changes of direction that could cause your vehicle to roll over
• Be in the correct lane for where you want to go
• Give way to all vehicles that will cross your path from your right as you enter the
• Look out for people on bikes, as they may find it difficult to maintain a turn signal on a roundabout and are exempt from the requirement to signal.
If you are turning left at the first exit of a roundabout, signal left as you come up to the roundabout.
If you are going straight through a roundabout:
• Don't signal as you come up to the roundabout
• Signal left as you pass the exit before the one you wish to take. At some small roundabouts, it may not be possible to give three seconds' warning, but it is courteous to give as much indication as you can.
If you are travelling more than halfway around a roundabout:
• Signal right as you come up to the roundabout
• Signal left as you pass the exit before the one you wish to take.