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Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004

This rule establishes the rules under which traffic operates on roads. It applies to all road users, whether they are drivers, riders, passengers, pedestrians, or leading or droving animals.

Rule versions

  • The ‘Current rule’ will give you the most up-to-date version of the Rule and any amendments made to it. We recommend this as your reference point if you want to read the most current information.
  • The ‘Original rule and amendments’ will give you the very first version of the rule (as it was when it was first created) as well as links to all amendments made to it over time. We recommend this page as your reference page if you want to research the history of the rule.

Note: Both of these pages will also provide links to the consultation material – such as summary of submissions and FAQs (questions and answers) – for each version and amendment.

Questions and answers

Questions and answers are provided to accompany a new rule or amendment when they are signed. These and other consultation documents on this page have not been updated to take into account any later rule amendments and are retained for historic interest only.

Land Transport Rules - Questions & answers

Q&A for amendment rules 2005

What is the draft Land Transport Rule: Omnibus Amendment 2005?

Draft Land Transport Rule: Omnibus Amendment 2005 (the Omnibus Amendment Rule) brought together in one draft Rule a number of proposed amendments to 13 existing Land Transport Rules. The draft Omnibus Amendment Rule went out for public consultation earlier this year. Following consultation, the provisions in the Omnibus Amendment Rule were split into 13 separate amendment Rules.

What are in the amendment Rules?

Generally, the amendment Rules include changes related to VINs, alternative fuel systems, approved vehicle standards, definitions of axle sets of heavy motor vehicles, towing of motor vehicles that are not trailers, setting of speed limits of 90 km/h and 10 km/h, traffic signs and markings, vehicle lighting and the use of mopeds in bus and transit lanes.

Who do the amendment Rules affect?

The amendment Rules directly affect a number of groups and individuals within the transport and roading sectors. These include vehicle importers and manufacturers, vehicle testers and inspectors and heavy vehicle operators and drivers. Changes to do with setting of speed limits and traffic signs and markings will mainly affect road controlling authorities. Moped drivers will be affected by the change to the bus and transit lane provision. Many of the changes will indirectly or eventually affect the driving public.

When do they come into force?

Most of the amendment Rules come into force on 15 September 2005. The Vehicle Standards Compliance Amendment Rule and the Vehicle Equipment Amendment Rule, and two Amendment Rules consequentially amended (the Passenger Service Vehicles Amendment Rule and the Seatbelts and Seatbelt Anchorages Amendment Rule) come into force on 1 April 2006, to allow for systems changes.

Why were the Rule amendments consulted on in one draft Rule instead of separately?

It was easier to consult on the proposed amendments in one draft Rule, rather than producing 13 separate amendment Rules. Also, some of the changes affected more than one Rule, so it made sense to consult on them together. For example, the changes to alternative fuel systems affect both the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Equipment 2004 (the Equipment Rule) and the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Standards Compliance Rule 2002 (the Compliance Rule).

Were the public consulted on the draft Omnibus Rule? How many made submissions?

In April 2005, about 2200 groups and individuals on the Land Transport New Zealand (NZ Transport Agency) consultation database were advised by letter of the proposed changes and invited to make submissions. Public notices were also placed in the main metropolitan daily papers. Of the 33 submissions received, 17 were on proposed changes to Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2003 (the Speed Limits Rule). Submissions received on the proposed changes were taken into account in preparing the amendment Rules.

What are the 13 amendment Rules?

The amendment Rules that were part of the Omnibus Rule are:

Why have they been produced?

The NZ Transport Agency is continuing and completing the programme started by the Land Transport Safety Authority in 1993, to update and consolidate land transport requirements – including those in the Traffic Regulations 1976 and other transport regulations, policy statements and Gazette notices – and convert them to plain language Land Transport Rules.

Other provisions, relating to vehicle identification numbers (VINs) and alternative fuel systems, in the Traffic Regulations have been transferred into the Vehicle Standards Compliance Amendment Rule and the Vehicle Equipment Amendment Rule, with standards updated and provisions clarified. The amendment Rules also allow for two new speed limits (of 10 km/h and 90 km/h) to be added to the list of speed limits that can be set by road controlling authorities, and they correct errors in a number of Rules.

What specific changes have been made to the individual Rules?

We have outlined the specific changes to individual Rules below. You can also refer directly to a particular amendment Rule or Rules to which the amendments relate. You can find these on the NZ Transport Agency website in the Resources & manuals section.

1. Alternative fuel systems

What is an 'alternative fuel' system?

An alternative fuel system is a system used to propel a vehicle that uses a fuel other than petrol or diesel. The amendments cover alternative fuel systems that run on liquified petroleum gas (LPG) or compressed natural gas (CNG).

What changes have been made to alternative fuel systems?

Currently, alternative fuel systems in vehicles are installed and tested under New Zealand Standards (NZS) for CNG and LPG. Alternative fuel systems installed in vehicles on or after 1 July 2005 are required to meet new standards. These new standards have been developed jointly by the New Zealand and Australian CNG and LPG fuel industries and align the alternative fuel industries in both countries.

The amendments enable safety standards and requirements currently in the Traffic Regulations covering alternative fuel systems in motor vehicles to be brought together into Rules and updated and clarified. This will make compliance easier without imposing new costs.

Which Land Transport Rules do these changes affect?

Standards for installation and testing are incorporated by reference into the Vehicle Equipment Rule; and approval, inspection and certification requirements are included in Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Standards Compliance 2002 (the Vehicle Standards Compliance Rule).

2. Vehicle identification numbers (VINs)

What is a vehicle identification number?

A vehicle identification number (VIN) is a unique number that identifies a vehicle for registration and identification purposes; they can also help detect stolen vehicles.

All vehicles must have either a VIN or a chassis number somewhere on the vehicle, and vehicles registered in New Zealand on or after 1 April 1994 must have a VIN (unless specifically excluded by clause 6.1 of the Vehicle Standards Compliance Rule).

Because most vehicles in New Zealand are now sourced from overseas, VINs are issued and inspected on entry and before registration. If a vehicle does not already have a VIN when it arrives in New Zealand, one will be assigned and attached to the vehicle.

What changes have been made?

The Vehicle Standards Compliance Amendment Rule updates the Vehicle Standards Compliance Rule to reflect the current process for assigning and attaching VINs to vehicles. The amendment also makes a distinction between a 'VIN' and a 'valid VIN'. A valid VIN is one that can be decoded to provide information about a particular vehicle. Using a valid VIN is considered to be more reliable as it cannot be transferred to another vehicle.

The Passenger Service Vehicles Amendment Rule and the Seatbelts and Seatbelt Anchorages Amendment Rule update the definition of a VIN in the existing Rules.

The amendments make compliance easier without imposing any new costs.

How does 'Whole of Vehicle Marking' (WOVM) fit into the amendment Rules?

It is intended that the Vehicle Standards Compliance Amendment Rule will facilitate the WOVM aspect of the government's vehicle crime reduction programme. The Rule will enable the Director of Land Transport to require new or used vehicles less than 15 years old, which are imported after WOVM comes into effect, to have multiple copies of their VINs attached either at the border inspection stage or when they are inspected before registration.

WOVM itself will not come into effect until the Director of Land Transport has issued a Gazette notice saying how and where the marking is to be applied. This is expected to be mid to late 2006.

3. Updating of approved vehicle standards

What changes have been made?

Five of the amendment Rules update approved vehicle standards in Rules. The updated standards for VINs and alternative fuel systems are covered in 1. and 2. above. Standards for frontal impact protection and windscreen wipe and wash systems are updated in three other amendment Rules – the Frontal Impact Amendment Rule, the Glazing Amendment Rule and the Tyres and Wheels Amendment Rule.

Why are standards for frontal impact protection being amended?

The Frontal Impact Amendment Rule includes an additional approved vehicle standard option (Directive 96/79/EC) for frontal impact protection for Class MA vehicles (passenger cars). This was inadvertently left out of the list of approved vehicle standards in the Frontal Impact Rule.

Why are the standards for windscreen wipe and wash systems and space-saver tyres being updated?

During 2003, the Department of Transport and Regional Services in Australia reviewed seven of their Australian Design Rules (ADRs), some of which are approved vehicle standards incorporated by reference into New Zealand Land Transport Rules. They deleted three ADRs and amalgamated the others into an existing ADR. The changes took effect from 1 January 2005. These changes to ADRs meant that we needed to update the approved vehicle standards relating to windscreen wipe and wash systems and space-saver tyres in our Land Transport Rules.

What are the changes to the approved vehicle standards for windscreen wipe and wash systems?

The ADR changes remove the requirement for windscreen wipe and wash systems to comply with an approved vehicle standard. In line with Australian requirements, they now only have to comply with General Safety Requirements in the Rule. This relaxes the current requirements and reduces compliance costs for some vehicle manufacturers – such as New Zealand manufacturers of bus bodies and people who import light trucks manufactured in Europe but not certified to a windscreen wiper and wash systems standard.

What are the changes to the approved standards for tyres and wheels?

ADR 71 was an approved standard in New Zealand for space-saver tyres. It has been removed and replaced with ADR 42/04, which contains relevant requirements for space-saver tyres.

4. Definition of axle sets of heavy motor vehicles

What changes have been made under the amendment Rules?

Under Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass 2002 (the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule), tandem-axle, tri-axle and quad-axle sets on heavy vehicles must meet specified standards relating to axle spacing, the number and size of tyres (all axles must contain the same number and size of tyres), and load sharing. (Load sharing means that the weight is distributed evenly between the axles in an axle set of a heavy vehicle.)

The Vehicle Dimension and Mass Amendment Rule and the Heavy Vehicles Amendment Rule revise the definitions of tandem-axle, tri-axle and quad-axle sets for heavy vehicles. The parts of the definitions that refer to load sharing and to tyres having to be of the same size have been deleted. However, these criteria are prescribed in other provisions of the Rules.

Why has this amendment been made?

The Vehicle Dimension and Mass Amendment Rule resolves an operational compliance issue for operators of heavy vehicles and for enforcement officers by clarifying what the weight limits are for axle sets (groups of axles).

Will this add new costs for heavy vehicle operators?

There are no new costs associated with this amendment for operators of heavy vehicles.

5. Towing of motor vehicles that are not trailers

What changes have been made?

The Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Amendment Rule clarifies requirements relating to the towing of motor vehicles that are not trailers, by applying the same conditions as already apply to the towing of trailers.

6. Setting of speed limits

What are speed limits and how are they set?

Speed limits are legally defined maximum speeds allowed on New Zealand roads, set under the Speed Limits Rule. The default speed limit is 50 km/h for urban areas and 100 km/h for rural roads. Where the default speed limit is not appropriate the Speed Limits Rule allows road controlling authorities (Transit NZ, and district and city councils) to set alternative limits of 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80 km/h.

What changes have been made to the setting of speed limits?

Two new projects have generated a need for road controlling authorities to be able to set speed limits of 10 km/h and 90 km/h in addition to the existing speed limits of 20, 30, 40 50, 60, 70 or 80 km/h. The Speed Limits Amendment Rule adds the new speed limits to the list of permissible limits in the Speed Limits Rule.

Will these changes impose additional costs?

The addition of the two new speed limits to the list of permissible limits will not in itself result in any additional costs. Setting a 10 km/h or 90 km/h speed limit will not involve costs other than those normally incurred in this work.

What are the two new projects that prompted these changes?

Speed zoning

The NZ Transport Agency is working on a speed-zoning project, aimed at developing procedures for determining the safe and appropriate speed limit for a rural road. Criteria for deciding on an appropriate speed limit is based on the operating characteristics of the road, including roadside environment, traffic volume, road design features, crash rates and operating speeds. Road controlling authorities have identified potential speed zone sites around the country, which have been assessed against draft criteria developed by the NZ Transport Agency. New speed limits will be set for most of these sites and the operation of the speed zone limits evaluated over the next two years.

What is a speed zone?

A speed zone is a designated stretch of road where the speed limit has been set for the operating conditions and physical characteristics of the road rather than the standard rural speed limit of 100 km/h.

What are the changes in respect of speed zones?

The Speed Limits Amendment Rule includes an option for a new speed limit of 90 km/h to be set on a rural road.

Does this mean that the Government will move towards lowering the speed limit on rural roads generally?

That is not the intention of this amendment. The option for a 90 km/h speed limit allows road controlling authorities more flexibility in setting a speed limit for sections of road where a different speed is considered more appropriate for the road design. Transit NZ has identified a number of sections of state highway where a 90 km/h speed limit would be appropriate. Stakeholders will be consulted on any proposed changes to the speed limit in speed zone areas.

How will this be applied consistently across the country?

The speed zoning project the NZ Transport Agency is currently working on aims to put in place procedures for ensuring rural speed limits are set appropriately and consistently across the country.

Is there sufficient difference between 90 km/h and 100 km/h to achieve any safety benefits by introducing a 90 km/h speed limit option?

The NZ Transport Agency believes safety benefits can be achieved by introducing a 90 km/h speed limit option.

Under speed zoning, in areas where a 90 km/h speed limit may be appropriate, most vehicles are likely to be travelling at this speed already if they are driving to the conditions. By reducing the posted speed limit, vehicles travelling faster than 90 km/h would be encouraged to slow down to match the general flow of traffic.

Overseas studies have found that even a 1km/h drop in the average speed will result in a three per cent decrease in the number of crashes. This suggests that safety benefits will occur if a 90 km/h speed limit is put in place and average speeds drop by 1 km/h or more.

Shared zones

The NZ Transport Agency is working with other organisations to apply the concept of signposted shared zones to appropriate areas such as inner city malls and car parks, where vehicles and pedestrians share the road.

What are shared zones?

Shared zones are usually streets where pedestrians, cycles and motor vehicles can share the road safely. The driver of a vehicle (this includes a cyclist) must give way to a pedestrian in a shared zone. At the same time, a pedestrian in a shared zone must not 'unduly impede' the passage of a vehicle in a shared zone; that is, they should not deliberately block the path of an approaching vehicle.

What changes have been made to the Speed Limits Rule in respect of shared zones?

The Speed Limits Amendment Rule allows road controlling authorities (generally district and city councils) to set and sign a speed limit of 10 km/h in a shared zone where they think this would be of benefit.

My speedometer does not show a speed of 10 km/h. How will I know I am driving slowly enough?

Although the speedometers of some vehicles do not show very low speeds, they do provide drivers with an indication of the speed at which they are traveling. In addition, shared zones have to be engineered so that drivers cannot drive comfortably in them at more than 10–15 km/h and so they are largely self-enforcing.

(Traffic engineering refers to the design features, such as speed humps, narrowing of traffic lanes, plantings, sign-posting and road markings, used in shared zones to encourage drivers to keep their speed down.)

If shared zones are required to be largely self-enforcing, why do we need a mandatory speed limit?

There are always drivers who ignore or do not understand traffic engineering and who drive faster than appropriate for the conditions. These drivers risk loss of control and/or damage to the road or to their vehicles. A mandatory speed limit in a shared zone can work with other traffic engineering installations to remind drivers to keep their speed down.

For the small percentage of drivers who do not comply, the Police will enforce any legitimate 10 km/h speed limit in the same way they enforce other speed limits.

7. New roundabout signs

What does the amendment Rule say?

The Traffic Control Devices Amendment Rule requires road controlling authorities to install a new roundabout give-way sign that incorporates the words 'give way'. Government is concerned that the current roundabout give-way sign may confuse road users because it does not contain the words 'give way'.

give way sign

8. Corrections to rule provisions

a) Traffic Control Devices Rule

What changes have been made?

The Traffic Control Devices Amendment Rule inserts a lane-use arrow diagram into Schedule 2. It also substitutes a new variable speed sign for the existing sign.

Why have the changes been made?

The changes correct errors in the wording of the Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices Rule 2004 (the Traffic Control Devices Rule).

b) Vehicle Lighting Rule

What changes have been made?

Under the Vehicle Lighting Amendment Rule, heavy buses and trucks, as well as heavy trailers and articulated vehicles, can now be fitted with side-marker lamps. This corrects an error in the wording of the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Lighting 2004.

c) Bus and transit lanes

What changes have been made in respect of bus and transit lanes?

Under Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 (the Road User Rule) and the Traffic Control Devices Rule, the use of bus and transit lanes is restricted to specific vehicles including cycles and motor cycles. Mopeds were inadvertently omitted from the list of vehicles allowed to use bus and transit lanes.

This is corrected in the Traffic Control Devices Amendment Rule and the Road User Amendment Rule.

d) Travel time zones for oversize vehicles

What changes have been made in respect of travel time zones?

The Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule sets out (in Schedule 6) how New Zealand is divided into three zones, which define the limits for allowable travel times for overdimension (oversize) vehicles. The Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Amendment Rule changes Schedule 6 by transferring the northern part of Northland (north and west of Whangarei) from zone 2 to zone 3. This relaxes the restrictions on travel times and corrects an error in the 2002 Rule.

How will the NZ Transport Agency make sure people know what their responsibilities under the amendment Rules?

A newsletter outlining the changes to the Rules will be sent to groups and individuals who expressed an interest in those Rules that are being amended. Stakeholder and industry groups likely to be directly affected by specific amendments will receive information on the changes.

We are also updating the NZ Transport Agency factsheets on our website that relate to any of the changes. They will be available from the dates the amendments come into effect (see question 'When do the amendment Rules come into force?').

Where can I get a copy of the amendment Rules?

You can purchase Land Transport Rules from selected Bennetts, Paper Plus and Whitcoulls retailers and other retailers that sell government legislation. If a retailer does not have Rules in stock, they may be able to order them for you. You can also order copies of all Rules, except Land Transport (Road User) Amendment Rule 2005 (SR 2005/239) , from Wickliffe Ltd (the Rule printers and distributers). The Road User Amendment can be ordered from Legislation Direct (telephone 04 495 2882).

Final rules are available on our website.(external link)

How can I get more information about the Rules?

You can contact the NZ Transport Agency help desk on 0800 699 000 for more information on the amendment Rules and the existing Rules they affect.

What is the legal basis for Rules?

The Land Transport Act 1998 allows for the Minister of Transport to make Land Transport Rules. Rules are drafted in plain English and go through an extensive consultation process with interested groups and the public. This is to ensure they are easily understood and are widely complied with. Rules are generally prepared by the NZ Transport Agency under contract to the Ministry of Transport and, like regulations, have the power of law.

Last updated: 12 October 2005