One year on from major changes to the give way rules, drivers have impressed authorities with their almost seamless response.

Today marks a year since two give way rules were changed to bring New Zealand traffic regulations into line with most of the developed world, and the expected chaos and confusion on the roads did not come to pass, according to police, the New Zealand Transport Association and insurers.

The first change required all traffic turning right to give way to a vehicle coming from the opposite direction and turning left.

The second change was to rules at uncontrolled T-intersections which meant all traffic at the bottom of the T gave way to all traffic at the top of the T.


There had been few accidents as a result of the changes and most drivers seemed to have good awareness and understanding of the new rules, said national road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths.

"The vast majority of drivers grasped the new rules immediately and have continued to use them correctly. We had very few reports of any crashes, congestion or confusion. Drivers were initially cautious and courteous but most seemed to understand the new rules and are applying them without too much difficulty," he said.

An NZTA-commissioned survey of 1000 drivers one month after the changes showed 90 per cent chose the correct option when asked which vehicle gave way at uncontrolled T-intersections, compared with 61 per cent last February before the rules were changed.

For the right-hand turn rule, 89 per cent answered correctly in the April survey compared with 74 per cent in February.

Police said the changes did not appear to have resulted in any increased risk at intersections but analysis of crash data and traffic movements would not be available until later this year.

NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt congratulated drivers on their reaction to the changes, saying they had become "second nature" to most.

AA Insurance said it had received fewer than five claims that could be attributed to the new rules, all immediately after the switch.

Its head of corporate affairs, Suzanne Wolton, said these cases involved drivers turning from the top of the T being hit on the front driver's side by vehicles turning right from the bottom. She said the low volume of claims showed Kiwis had adapted quickly and safely, as expected.