'Give way' day or just stay away

16:00, Mar 23 2012
Paul Dickson
NO, YOU GO: Driving instructor Paul Dickson negotiates Hamilton's Bridge St, River Rd intersection, picked as a potential troublespot when give way rules change tomorrow.

On the eve of the biggest road rule change in decades Waikato motorists have been told to take their time and avoid some problematic spots altogether, but most say they've come to grips with the new "give way" rules.

Roading experts are urging caution, saying while most people will have swotted up enough to get through the first day of tomorrow's rule changes drivers' bad habits could creep back over the next few months.

From 5am tomorrow drivers turning left at intersections will no longer give way to vehicles turning from their right.

And vehicles turning right from a terminating road have to give way.

Hamilton City Council have highlighted four busy intersections where the rule changes could cause headaches and have encouraged motorists to think of alternative routes to work next week.

The give way changes are predicted to reduce intersection crashes by seven per cent.

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A Times online poll of 201 voters found 61 per cent of readers were confident they knew the give way rules.

Hamilton man Ian Gillespie, 79, has been driving for 59 years and was confident the rule changes would make intersections safer.

He said the NZ Transport Agency's advertising blitz about the changes was effective and explained the give way rules clearly.

The changes do not effect the give way rules at roundabouts.

"I'll also have my wife with me so she will make sure I know [the rules]," Mr Gillespie said.

NZTA held off launching their $1.2 million advertising blitz until last week, saying they wanted to limit the chances of motorists using the new rules too early.

David Pearks, NZTA's access and use manager (Waikato-Bay of Plenty), said he was confident the agency had done enough to prepare drivers.

He said drivers also had to take individual responsibility to ensure they understood the rule changes.

Acting district road policing manager, Acting Inspector Jeff Penno, said he did not expect the give way changes to cause major problems next week.

Police will have a "very small presence" at key city intersections on Monday.

"The experience in Victoria, Australia [who changed their give way rules in 1993] was people were a little bit unsure in the short term so everyone gave way to everyone which was great.

"We think we're likely to see a few more problems over the next two months."

Police and Hamilton City Council are urging drivers to take special care at four key intersections: Memorial Dr and Bridge St; River Rd and Te Aroha St; Hukanui Rd and Glen Lynne Ave; and Bankwood Rd, Clarkin Rd, Heaphy Tr junction.

Waikato University associate professor of psychology Robert Isler expected drivers to be cautious for the first two or three weeks after the change but warned bad habits could creep in.

Motorists whose driving behaviour was ingrained might have the biggest problems, he said.

He said the value of passengers giving drivers advice depended on whether they were giving the right guidance.

AA driver training instructor Paul Dickson said there could be a "settling in period" as people got used to the rules.

"Some people don't like change but I think they will soon come around. Time will tell whether it will make intersections safer but I think it will work."

SMASH TOLL

Crashes at Waikato intersections 2006-2010: Total crashes7429 Average crashes per year 1486 Average crashes per week28.6 Average crashes per day 4.1

Waikato Times