Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Neither fish nor fowl

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  • BenWilson, in reply to anth,

    Actually as there are two lanes on the off ramp, with one lane from each direction to feed them, both left and right turning vehicles have right of way to the lane closest to them. This law remains the same with regard to this though has always seemed to be little known so I was on occasion let through.

    That sounds dangerously counterintuitive. How would either car know which lane the other wanted to turn into? There is no compulsion whatsoever when turning to choose the closest lane. You just have to indicate three seconds before the turn. If what you are saying is true, I would expect to see very clear markings on the road to signify it, like a guiding curve.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to anth,

    I’ve never been so much as tooted at

    I’ve been yelled at to get off the road by the driver of a car behind me.

    I had my first significant on-road confrontation yesterday. A silly old man yelled at me about wanting “the whole road” as he went past, and then, not liking my subsequent hand signal, pulled over at what happened to be my destination – the Great North Road gate of Avondale Markets.

    He then got out of his car and started to approach me. He would not have been any physical threat to me, but I’d hate to be in the position of having to defend myself. He eventually contented himself with repeatedly threatening to run me over. I told him should shouldn’t make threats like that and eventually he drove off.

    He apparently didn’t like my recourse to the right-hand lane, as a result of the usual clusterfuck at the carpark gate, where the queue had filled up the whole left lane, back to the lights. I wasn’t really close to him or really even slowing him down. Oh well.

    Otoh, a few days earlier, a super-considerate driver waved me through to go around a bus by Western Springs, then gave me a thumbs-up as she went past.

    Not entirely dissimilar situations, very different reactions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    That sounds dangerously counterintuitive. How would either car know which lane the other wanted to turn into? There is no compulsion whatsoever when turning to choose the closest lane. You just have to indicate three seconds before the turn. If what you are saying is true, I would expect to see very clear markings on the road to signify it, like a guiding curve

    That is what people do all the time at that intersection, though. It seems to work well.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That is what people do all the time at that intersection, though. It seems to work well.

    Sure, but that is an example of cooperative driving, rather like the "merge like a zip" thing. A bit like letting people out of side roads, it's people making traffic work, when the rules aren't helping.

    ETA: To make it clearer what I'm contending, I don't think that the traffic turning right does actually have right of way. But the left turning traffic can see that there's no real loss to them by enabling the flow. If a left turner did, for some reason, decide they must have the right lane, the right turners would have to yield to them. Up until last year, the tables were turned. Left turners had to be sure that the right turner was taking the right lane - if there was a crash they would be at fault. But the right turner would have to be an idiot to want to take the left lane.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    There is no compulsion whatsoever when turning to choose the closest lane.

    I suggest you familiarise yourself with the Road Code's opinion on the matter. It doesn't support your assertion.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    I suggest you familiarise yourself with the Road Code’s opinion on the matter. It doesn’t support your assertion.

    I had one of "those" arguments* once with my partner about exactly that. Surprisingly being able to show her the road code did not seem to improve the argument :).

    *you know the one where both of you argue about something inane because you are tired and grumpy about everything.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I know exactly what you mean.

    It's a great example of why I think there should be, at minimum, mandatory "must pass" road rules testing every time you have to renew your licence. This is a situation where not knowing the law actually could result in a serious collision.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Fortunately this isn’t one of those arguments. I freely admit Matthew is correct. My consultation of the road code before I posted just didn’t find the section on one-way roads, but I can see it’s clear now.

    It’s a great example of why I think there should be, at minimum, mandatory “must pass” road rules testing every time you have to renew your licence.

    Actually, it’s a very poor example. I have not become significantly safer for knowing this. Knowledge of that detail of law is trumped in the safety stakes by the far more general rule that one should drive to avoid accidents. Since in this case, both vehicles can easily see each other, they would really have to want to crash to actually do so. And anyone who deliberately crashes into another car is in the wrong automatically. There is room to avoid collision, since there are two lanes.

    The cyclist as a vehicle clearly makes the entire situation completely different from that rule, since there is no way it is correct that a cyclist turning at that intersection must take the right lane of the on-ramp.

    Ironically, this law actually makes cyclists much less safe in this situation, since it means they really are holding up traffic behind them, in the situation of a stream of traffic making left turns on the on-ramp blocking them from accessing the cycleway. Drivers who know this rule will be honking at them, and they may feel pressured to do something foolish, or to shrink to the edge of the island and let traffic pass behind them. They are safer from the people who don’t know the rule, who will think they have to wait anyway.

    This law remains the same with regard to this though has always seemed to be little known so I was on occasion let through.

    Yes, I had no memory of it. I don’t recall the codes from the 80s having any specific mention of different rules of right of way for 2-way entries into two-lane roads, and I’m not surprised – it just doesn’t seem like a rule that would cause much trouble from failing to know it. People would see that it’s the best thing to do, and if they have any level of experience, would probably make the turn with caution, slowly, or staggered with the other vehicle, just in case the other person doesn’t know the rule.

    Also, I speculate, it’s quite rare to find an uncontrolled intersection of this kind. It is a stupid design, as right turning traffic can be held up indefinitely anyway, by the oncoming traffic going straight, and will hold up their entire lane behind them. To even have two lanes going onto the ramp indicates that high volume is expected. Which is so, it’s very busy in the evening rush hour. There should be traffic lights there. Which would also be much safer for cyclists, and pedestrians.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    Knowledge of that detail of law is trumped in the safety stakes by the far more general rule that one should drive to avoid accidents.

    Of course, but if that rule actually mattered terribly much we wouldn’t have dozens of people dying every year in intersection crashes.

    If the person turning left onto the ramp didn’t know the rule but approached slightly fast on the assumption that they were allowed to use both lanes it’s entirely conceivable that a person legitimately turning right who did know the rule might end up arguing with the left-turner’s driver’s door. Those kinds of crashes happen all the time through simple failure to give way on single-lane roads.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    Also, I speculate, it’s quite rare to find an uncontrolled intersection of this kind.

    Nowhere near as rare as you'd suspect. Top of Mortimer Pass in Newmarket springs immediately to mind. It's fairly common for onramps, come to think of it, though as the motorways get upgraded there's a lot of signalisation happening.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Of course, but if that rule actually mattered terribly much we wouldn’t have dozens of people dying every year in intersection crashes.

    If it didn't matter, we might have thousands of people dying. Any angry idiot in a big truck out to make a point could kill people who failed to notice their picky rule of choice.

    it’s entirely conceivable that a person legitimately turning right who did know the rule might end up arguing with the left-turner’s driver’s door

    Yes, it's conceivable. More likely, the right turner would slow down to avoid the collision. They would most likely be actually looking directly at the left turner during the turn, if only to be sure that they were in fact indicating a turn, rather than having forgotten to cancel their indicator. This would be simply prudent to avoid the real danger, a high speed head-on vs angled collision. Experienced drivers do this as a matter of course, because forgetting to cancel an indicator is really common, something the road code doesn't cover, except with, as I said before, the really important rule, to avoid accidents at all costs.

    Nowhere near as rare as you'd suspect. Top of Mortimer Pass in Newmarket springs immediately to mind.

    Google Streetview shows Mortimer Pass as a single lane at the top. Has this changed?

    I'm wracking my memory to come up with any other examples. Usually when a four lane carriageway crosses a four lane carriageway (dual or not), there's a traffic light or a roundabout to control the intersection, or free turns with other lane segregations. This is quite an old on-ramp, on an old bridge, which is probably why it doesn't follow standard.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • anth,

    The cyclist as a vehicle clearly makes the entire situation completely different from that rule, since there is no way it is correct that a cyclist turning at that intersection must take the right lane of the on-ramp.

    Yeah, this entrance to the cycleway is a pretty good example of how to not design roads. When it was on my commute I’d wait at the front so that the cars behind could get past.

    I don’t recall the codes from the 80s having any specific mention of different rules of right of way for 2-way entries into two-lane roads

    I definitely recall this rule when studying the road code prior to getting my licence. That must have been at the end of the 80s. I’ve checked a copy from 2004 which has this rule; that isn’t the 80s of course but is before the recent give way rule change.

    It is in the “Key driving skills” section, specifically “Using lanes correctly”, rather than the later “Giving way” section. This which makes sense given that there is no need for the paths these vehicles to follow to intersect.

    it’s quite rare to find an uncontrolled intersection of this kind. It is a stupid design

    It is quite common at controlled intersections though, and if both directions perpendicular to the two lane road have a green light and there is no through traffic this is effectively the same. I think not having this rule would be stupid as that’d mean there were two lanes with two vehicles wanting to use them and yet one vehicle would have to wait while one lane went unused.

    Before the give way rule change I saw a few examples of drivers thinking that turning right gave them right of way on both lanes and who actually seemed to try to ram a left turning car. Fortunately the driver of the left turning vehicle not only knew what the rules really were but was ready to stop in case of encountering an idiot who though deliberately crashing was a suitable way to react if someone didn’t share their misunderstanding of the rules. I don’t recall it being a problem to me personally when I’ve been cycling, which is surprising as there aren’t many situations where cycling works out better in terms of treatment from motorists.

    Since Nov 2006 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Yes, I had no memory of it. I don’t recall the codes from the 80s having any specific mention of different rules of right of way for 2-way entries into two-lane roads, and I’m not surprised – it just doesn’t seem like a rule that would cause much trouble from failing to know it.

    It was certainly in when I sat my tests in 1990.

    I wish more people knew this rule. Numerous times I've turned right ( several years ago) or left (more recently) into the closest lane only to find someone jumping across their lane to move into mine. You have to turn into the closest lane.

    In Dunedin this happens a lot turning onto the one way north at the bottom of Queens Gardens. It's a three lane road but the left hand lane only lasts for a block before it's a compulsory left turn. So people turn left will cross over that whole lane, and often the second one to get into the right hand one, thinking they have the right of way because they're turning left.

    It used to happen the other way with right turning people going into the left lane in order to turn left a block ahead.

    It's a problem because if the other person suddenly has to stop, they're now sitting across the opposing traffic swearing and they're about to be blindsided by straight through traffic coming the other way.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Sounds like a traffic light would help a lot.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • anth,

    Before the give way rule change I saw a few examples of drivers thinking that turning right gave them right of way on both lanes and who actually seemed to try to ram a left turning car

    I should have made it clear that these incidents weren't at this on ramp, but at controlled intersections when both turning vehicles had a green light.

    Since Nov 2006 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews, in reply to BenWilson,

    Sounds like a traffic light would help a lot.

    That's at lights. Here

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

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