Almost two-thirds of Herald readers believe a quirky intersection rule requiring left-turning vehicles to give way to traffic crossing from the right should be scrapped, according to an online poll.
The issue was a hot topic for readers - almost 4000 people voted online and almost 80 emailed comments.
Of 3822 readers who responded to the Herald poll, 2368 (or 62 per cent) said the rule should go. The remaining 1454 (38 per cent) wanted to keep the rule.
Readers against the rule said requiring left-turning traffic to wait - often blocking traffic behind from driving straight through - was confusing and dangerous. Drivers from overseas, and New Zealanders who had driven in other countries, said they often fell foul of the rule because New Zealand was the only country that applied it.
The previous Government twice decided against changing the rule against advice from the police, the Ministry of Transport and former Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven. The issue has been raised again by the Automobile Association and transport experts in the Institution of Professional Engineers.
The ministry's general manager for land transport safety and environment, David Crawford, said officials would review all information relating to intersection crashes and their causes while developing a new road-safety strategy early next year.
Readers said a review could not come soon enough, with many saying dithering by motorists confused by the rule was causing prangs and near-misses at intersections.
Of 78 people who emailed the Herald to comment, only a handful were in favour of the right-hand give-way rule. Reader Danny Thompson said the changing the rule would lead to more confusion. Ross Howie remembered the very convincing case for introducing the current rule in 1977.
But the majority of emailers agreed with reader Brian Carpenter, who said: "The New Zealand right turn priority rule is simply ridiculous. It confuses even drivers who understand it, since it's counter-intuitive. It's dangerous when there are cars heading straight ahead as well as turning left, or when there are two left turns immediately adjacent. And of course it is incomprehensible to tourists. Just scrap it as quickly as possible."
Some of your views:
Brian Carpenter: The NZ right turn priority rule is simply ridiculous. It confuses even drivers who understand it, since it's counter-intuitive. It's dangerous when there are cars heading straight ahead as well as turning left, or when there are two left turns immediately adjacent. And of course it is incomprehensible to tourists. Just scrap it as quickly as possible.
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Danny Thompson:Leave the rule as it is. Changing it will lead to more confusion (just how many people still don't know how to negotiate a roundabout correctly?). The rule has been in place for years and is simple to use. If you can't figure out who gives way then you shouldn't be on the road. It should be second nature when you're driving to apply the rules when needed.
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Leanne Pearson: It's ridiculous and not in sync with how the rest of the world drives. Very confusing for foreigners.
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Mark Cooper: I have been a licensed driving instructor for 15 years. The work I am involved in is with adult drivers; government departments, local bodies and public and private corporations. We spend some time with them ensuring they have a good understanding of the road rules, and it would be fair to say that somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent of these people are unsure of the present give-way rules. This rule needs to be changed, any rule so widely misunderstood is obviously flawed.
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Jenny Barnes:Since arriving in New Zealand 15 years ago I have always wondered about the wisdom of this annoying road rule. Swapping inconvenience from one side of the road to the other is hardly aiding traffic flow and the driver who wants to perform the least intrusive turn bears the brunt of the problem. It is nothing short of a miracle to survive this manoeuvre several times a day!
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Adrian Larkins: Stupid rule that creates lots of confusion and is plain dangerous.
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John Mackie: For God's sake change this one ASAP! I have visited NZ twice and been caught out more than once on both occasions, and I knew the rule There ain't no substitute for instinct.
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Ann Thornton: The current law is crazy, I have been driving for years and it still feels awkward. Added to the confusion is having to look forward and backward to check the movement of the oncoming vehicle and any traffic behind you which may prevent the oncoming vehicle turning right. It should be changed without delay.
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Graeme: Leave it as it is. Every motorist should understand it by now and if it is changed there will be more confusion. As for overseas drivers, when in Rome do as the Romans do. In many overseas countries they drive on the opposite side of the road than we do here and we don't change that rule because of that.
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Bruce Christian: I support a change which brings New Zealand into line with Australia and the United Kingdom as so many tourists drive in each other's countries.
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Mike Binis: I've lived here for 20 years, and still cringe at near-misses daily.