Mild confusion over new give way rule but no mass bloodshed

Last updated 05:00 26/03/2012

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Motorists appear to have coped with the first day of the new "give way" rules but the acid test comes today as commuters head to work.

A sense of mild confusion was evident on roads yesterday as people adjusted to the new rules but no accidents were attributed to the rule change.

The New Zealand Transport Agency and police had not predicted a spike in intersection crashes, expecting motorists to exercise caution.

Police central communications centre Inspector Paul Jermy said there were 47 crashes nationwide from 5am to 5pm yesterday, which was "nothing out of the ordinary".

NZ Transport Agency spokesman Andy Knackstedt said it would be impossible to precisely collate how many crashes were related to the new rule for two months.

The acting national manager of road policing, Superintendent Rob Morgan, said the first day of the new rules went well. "Anecdotally there don't seem to have been any issues." The short, sharp awareness campaign seemed to have worked, he said. "The big risk was that they would go too early and people would be confused about when the date was."

No extra police were on the roads yesterday.

Taxi driver Bihua Jiao was behind the wheel in Christchurch when the new give way rules came into force at 5am yesterday.

He said his mind was fresh because he had just started work but he was constantly watching the clock. "I just kept reminding myself: it's nearly 5am, time to make the change. Every time I turned left or right, I was a little more careful."

Lower Hutt digital marketer Drew Broadley, 31, set up a "tongue in cheek" website – yourdriving.co.nz – tracking the supposed number of near-misses and crashes attributed to the rule change that had been reported on social media.

At 3.30pm yesterday, the website – which he described as a bit of fun and not scientific – had reported 28 crashes and nearly 6000 near misses.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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