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Regulations

Updated: 12 November 2009

Some key milestones in the development of transport regulations in New Zealand…

Date Milestones
1902 Compulsory annual inspection of vehicles – over 100 pounds – is introduced by the Motor Car Regulation Act. The same Act requires the certification of drivers of cars that carry passengers or goods and available for hire.
1925 Driver licences become compulsory for all drivers.
1931 The ‘Right Hand Rule’ is adopted following increasing concern over intersection crashes. Motorists are to slow down to the city speed limit of 12mph (19km/h) and give way to traffic on their right.
1931 New driver regulations require drivers to pass an eyesight test using the Snellen chart, a hearing test, a traffic law test and a practical driving test, from 1 June.
1931 From 1 June, only people aged 18 years and over can drive a vehicle weighing two tons or more and only people aged 20 years and over can apply for a licence to carry passengers, plus they had to provide a medical certificate.
1931 Omnibuses and char-a-bancs (large vehicles generally equipped with tiered seating to carry around 15 – 25 passengers) have to pass a mechanical safety check and be issued with a certificate of fitness. 
1937 After 1 March, all cars must have a warrant of fitness check every six months. In announcing this measure, the Minister of Transport, Robert Semple said it was designed to ensure all cars had safe lights, tyres, brakes, steering and exhaust and would "sweep the old crocks off the roads”.
1965 National Traffic Offence Bureau is established at Christchurch.
1969 Instant parking fines are introduced.
1969 The “Breathalyzer” is introduced in a effort to successfully conduct roadside tests to establish if a driver was likely to be over the limit.
1972 Metric introduced to transport.
1975 On 4 August, the ‘metricated’ traffic regulations take effect. Over two million speedometer conversion stickers are distributed to help motorists convert to the new metric speeds.
1978 Road User Charges Act (enforced by Ministry of Transport) is introduced.
1979 To conserve fuel, carless days are introduced and weekend petrol sales are banned.
1981 Registered owners become liable for parking offences involving their vehicles.
1992 New motor vehicle registration and road user charges systems are implemented.
1995 From 1 April, all children under five have to be in an approved child restraint when travelling in vehicles.
1997 From 1 January, the ‘Vehicle Standards – Glazing Rule’ requires tinted windows to transmit at least 35per cent of the available light to ensure drivers can see traffic outside the rear corners of their vehicles.
1999 From May, all drivers have to upgrade their paper licences to the new credit card-sized photo licence.
1999 Drivers caught at double the legal alcohol limit, or travelling at 50km/h over the speed limit, will have their licences suspended for 28 days.
1999 Disqualified drivers and unlicenced drivers who had been warned not to drive until they got a licence could have their vehicles impounded for 28 days.