Whether you drive, ride, cycle or walk in New Zealand, changes to the ‘Road User Rule’ will affect you from 1 November 2009.
The Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 is the legislation that sets out the requirements for the safe and efficient use of our roads. The Land Transport (Road User) Amendment Rule 2009, signed by Transport Minister Steven Joyce in August, outlines 24, either new or updated, provisions to further improve safety and efficiency for road users.
The most high-profile change is the impending ban on the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving. One study has shown that using a mobile phone while driving can increase a driver’s risk of being involved in a crash by up to four times.
Although the Road User Rule allows the use of hands-free mobile phones, the NZTA recommends that drivers minimise the potential for distraction by switching phones off while driving, or pulling over to make or receive calls. From 1 November it will only be legal to use a mobile phone to make, receive or end a call when driving if:
- the driver does not have to hold or manipulate the phone to do so (i.e. phone is completely voice activated), or
- the mobile phone is securely mounted to the vehicle and the driver manipulates the phone infrequently and briefly.
The rule does not allow drivers to create, send, or read text messages under any circumstances.
There are a further 23 amendments to the Road User Rule which include:
- riders of mopeds and motorcycles must switch their headlamps on during daylight hours, unless manufactured before 1 January 1980
- when a driver has to cross a special vehicle lane to turn left or get to a parking space, they must now do so in the minimum length of the lane necessary but no more than 50 metres.
For further information about the other provisions please read the Q&As or the amendment Rule below.
It is not the intent of the Road User Rule to make it illegal for drivers to use the satellite navigation and music functions of mobile phones, provided they are mounted in the vehicle and manipulated infrequently and briefly.
Officials are currently amending the rule accordingly. However, phones and satellite navigation systems should always be programmed while the vehicle is stationary, as doing so in a moving vehicle is a potential distraction.