She’ll be right when you’re turning left

How hard is it to understand that if you’re turning right you give way to all traffic?

The response to Transport Minister Steven Joyce’s announcement that from 2012 left turning traffic will no longer have to give way to vehicles turning right suggests some people find it very difficult.

As a rule of thumb if another vehicle would drive into your driver’s door if  it keeps going when you take the right of way, you should give way to it.

That makes sense except if you’re turning left and the other one is turning right which is what our current law requires. The one turning right would bang into the driver’s door of the one turning left if the left one took right of way but this is the exception which proves the rule.

There are several problems with the left turning vehicle being required to give way. We’re the only country in the world which applies that rule which confuses travellers coming here and us when we drive elsewhere.

If the right turning driver is prudent s/he will wait to ensure the vehicle indicating it’s going left is not only going to go left but is also going to give way because sometimes it’s indicating to go left because the indicator hasn’t turned off and sometimes the driver doesn’t give way when s/he should.

Then sometimes the one turning left does give way although the right turning driver often sees a vehicle behind the one turning left which will go straight ahead so the one turning right has to give way to that.

But sometimes the driver in the one turning left hasn’t checked the rear vision mirror and gives way to the right turning one which is giving way to the vehicle behind the left turning one. Then sometimes the one behind the one turning left holds back although the one turning right still hesitates and the one turning left still gives way (are you keeping up here? If not Offsetting Behaviour explains it more clearly).

If we go back to the way the road rule used to be, and the way it applies everywhere else, the right turning vehcile gives way to all traffic which should end the confusion, make intersections safer and help traffic flow better.

Though regardless of the road rule, prudent drivers will prepare to give way even if they have right of way, just in case the drivers who ought to give way don’t.

One Response to She’ll be right when you’re turning left

  1. pdm says:

    When I got my driving licence in October 1961 at the age of 15 and a few months these simple rules were drummed into me by my father:

    * Always give way to traffic on your right.
    * When turning right give way to all traffic.

    In almost 49 years of driving that advice has stood me in good stead and I have never been responsible for an accident when moving forward. My only accident was when I reveresed into a lamp post about 10 years ago to the hilarity of those watching.

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