Most motorists support the major changes to give way rules on New Zealand roads, and more than four out of five are confident they can follow them, a survey has found.

The changes to turning at intersections take effect in just over two weeks.

And despite fears about confusion reigning on the roads, a survey of 6000 Automobile Association members shows the changes to make driving safer have support. When similar changes were adopted in Victoria, Australia, in 1993, they resulted in a 7.1 per cent drop in crashes at intersections.

And the AA is challenging Kiwi drivers to outdo their counterparts across the Ditch. "If Australians can cope with the rule change, then I'm damn sure we can as well," said AA spokesman Mike Noon.


The AA survey asked members first about the rule change for motorists travelling towards each other, and found 60.5 per cent in support, with 16.1 per cent having no feeling either way.

In the case of this rule, 83.4 per cent were confident of their ability to follow it, and 77.1 per cent thought it would make turning at intersections safer or have no negative impact.

When it came to the rule change at T-intersections, 74.6 per cent supported it and 12.3 per cent had no feeling either way, while 86.1 per cent were confident of following it and 85.7 per cent saw it being safer or having no negative impact.

Mr Noon said the new rule was simpler and "more intuitive" and would remove some of the "guesswork" for motorists.

"The new rules also bring us in line with the rest of the world, which will reduce the risks of overseas drivers making a mistake about who has right of way on our roads."

He did not expect major problems as motorists adapted to the changes, but urged caution.

"Drivers should be ready to stop even when they have the right of way and take an extra moment to make sure of what other vehicles are doing before moving themselves."

Police say they will take a "softly, softly" approach to enforcing the new rules at first.

"There will be no 'lead-in amnesty'," said acting national road policing manager Acting Superintendent Rob Morgan, "but police, as always, will exercise discretion - especially at the outset - and will instead defer to an educational response to breaches of the new legislation."

The AA survey found that most respondents felt police should not start issuing tickets for one to threemonths after the new rules were introduced.

From 5am on Sunday, March 25:
* All traffic turning right must give way to a vehicle coming from the opposite direction and turning left. This applies at crossroads, T-intersections and driveways where both vehicles are facing each other with no signs or signals, or the same signs or signals.

* At an uncontrolled T-intersection, all traffic from a terminating road (bottom of the T) will have to give way to all traffic on a continuing road (top of the T). This will bring it into line with T-intersections where there are Stop or Give Way signs on the terminating road.