New rules good for us

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

It feels like the na­tion is col­lec­tively hold­ing its breath in an­tic­i­pa­tion of this Sun­day when the changes to the give-way rules come into play. Go­ing by some of the me­dia cov­er­age it’s hard to know whether to ex­pect mi­nor con­fu­sion or Ar­maged­don.

In the mean­time, we have been able to sit back and watch the NZ Trans­port Agency burn $1.2 mil­lion in 10 days ad­ver­tis­ing the law change – tele­vi­sion, ra­dio, on­line and print ad­ver­tis­ing, a leaflet door drop to 1.73 mil­lion homes. You name it, all bases are be­ing cov­ered. I would go so far as to say any­one who hasn’t grasped the new – and very log­i­cal – changes by March 25 prob­a­bly shouldn’t be on the road to be­gin with, but I have to con­fess the sta­tus quo has stumped me once or twice, where I’ve found my­self at an in­ter­sec­tion won­der­ing, ‘‘ Who does what now?’’

And I’m re­lieved to learn from Porirua Road Safety co-or­di­na­tor Mark Kairua I wasn’t the only one who al­ready thought it law that traf­fic turn­ing from the bot­tom of a ‘‘T’’ in­ter­sec­tion gives way to right-turn­ing traf­fic from the top of the ‘‘T’’.

Still, I was dumb­founded by the woe­ful scores of peo­ple asked to take the NZTA on­line quiz by Camp­bell Live last week. At least un­til I re­mem­bered how many times on my way to and from work each day I strike mo­torists in Porirua who haven’t seemed to have grasped the con­cepts of in­di­cat­ing be­fore turn­ing, merg­ing with other traf­fic or nav­i­gat­ing a round­about.

Per­haps March 25 will be a day of reck­on­ing af­ter all?

I have an op­ti­mistic hunch the law change will give New Zealand mo­torists a much-needed wakeup call, and im­prove our driv­ing gen­er­ally.

Most bad driv­ing isn’t caused by mo­torists be­ing too stupid to know the rules, or reck­lessly dis­obey­ing them.

It comes from us get­ting com­pla­cent and lazy be­hind the wheel. Ex­pe­ri­ence is a dou­ble-edged sword. The more we drive (with­out in­ci­dent), the more our aware­ness is dulled, the more bad habits we adopt. The new rules should sharpen us up, spark mo­torists to take to the roads with re­newed dili­gence and fo­cus.

Should the pre­dicted boon time for panel­beat­ers not tran­spire and the ac­ci­dents ac­tu­ally re­duce, I won’t be sur­prised. I may even pe­ti­tion the gov­ern­ment to keep the changes com­ing – maybe one ev­ery six months – just to keep us hon­est.

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