By Duncan Wilson
I got beeped yesterday morning.
I was waiting to turn left at one of Auckland's more ridiculous intersections and I was giving way to the right-turning traffic.
"You deserved to get beeped" I hear you say, "do you not know the rules have changed?"
Well, yes, actually, I do. I know the rules too well.
When news of the give-way rule change came last year, I have to admit I was pretty stoked. By and large, the new rules make sense. Once bedded in, the amount of attention a left-turning driver has to give to the goings on behind them will be greatly reduced, allowing them to concentrate fully on entering the new road and any hazards that may present themselves here (we have a knack for placing zebra crossings right there, don't we?).
The other reason the new rules make complete sense to me is that left turners are able to simply make the turn; their turn does not depend on crossing another lane of traffic, so let them go and let them go quickly.
That's the face of the news rules, anyhow. Delve a little deeper, however, and you'll see why there's a thin veil of confusion spread across our drivers.
Which brings me back to my honk from the car behind. Yes, I was waiting to turn left. Yes, I was giving way to right-turning cars. No, I wasn't in the wrong.
The reason? Hidden away in the NZ Transport Agency's document on the new give way rules exists a clause to the rules. A clause so relevant to so many of New Zealand's intersections you wonder why they didn't make a bigger song and dance about it in the first place.
The clause reads: "A car facing a stop sign gives way to a car facing a give way sign." It's accompanied by a pixelated image, blown up way beyond its original size.
Get that? So a give-way essentially overpowers a stop, no matter which way you're turning. Give-wayers have right of way over the poor stoppers. I say "poor stoppers" because every day I encounter stops that would serve the driving public better as give-ways, only to drive a little further and find a give-way that should clearly be a stop! But, then, how many us do that?
So, when approaching an intersection we need to check mirrors, signal appropriately, slow down, observe our road signs and then observe the road signs (or markings if they aren't clearly visible on our side of the road) of the opposing traffic, perform the "who gives way to who" calculation based on whether you can see a stop, give-way or, heaven-forbid, an uncontrolled marking opposite you, then proceed when it is your turn and safe to do so.
The intersection that brought this clause to my full attention is at Richmond Road-Kingsley Street in Grey Lynn, Auckland. I watched for a moment today and saw a mish-mash of cars, apparently just taking it in turn to go. Nobody was sure what they were doing!
If you've ever driven it, you'll know it's a stupid intersection anyway and the sooner a roundabout goes in there, the better. It's either that or ensure we all learn all the rules, right?