Information regarding red light policies
The request was partially successful.
From: Hugh Davenport
Dear New Zealand Transport Agency,
I would like to make a request about NZTA's policies about red light running. I've had a read through both the Land Transport Act, and the Land Transport Road User Rule, but can't find the information I'm looking for.
It is a bit unclear what defines an incident when a red light is said to be "run" in colloquial terminology. Is there a definition that NZTA use to define this?
A few examples which I believe is not covered by the Road User Rule.
- If a vehicle enters an intersection on an amber/yellow light (assuming it was not safe to stop when the light was displayed), and the light turns red while the vehicle is still within the intersection. This is the case I would be most interested.
- Other cases would be whether the front or the back of the vehicle is what is used to measure whether the vehicle has run a red. For example, a vehicle enters on an amber (again assuming wasn't safe to stop), but the vehicles rear enters when it is red (may be possible with long vehicles such as buses and trucks).
- The above example could also be the vehicle enters on an orange (assuming not safe to stop) or green, and the light turns red before the rear of the vehicle leaves the intersection.
I would be after a concise definition that can determine with certainty whether each of the cases described above are legal or not legal. As it stands I don't believe the Road User Rule is clear in this situation.
I have also asked this same question of the NZ Police, but they are being rather difficult, so I thought I would see if NZTA have any advice on this subject.
If this is not the correct agency for this request, please let me know who might be best to approach.
New Zealand Transport Agency
Thank you for your email in relation to red light policies.
The Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 (Road User Rule) sets down the
requirements in relation traffic laws in New Zealand with the Official New
Zealand Road Code providing a user-friendly guide to the laws set down in
the Road User Rule along with best practice.
Due to the number of situations that can occur on the road, the Road User
Rule does not provide a law every situation but more than one part or
section of the Rule may be applicable within one instance. However,
enforcement agencies (such as the NZ Police) have discretionary powers
which enables them to issue an infringement notice where a particular
traffic rule hasn’t been adhered to. If there is an instance where an
infringement is disputed, the courts would consider the situation based on
the traffic laws which may have been applied, along with the traffic, the
environment, the weather, road conditions, etc., at the time.
As you may be aware, the below sections of the Road User Rule outlines the
requirements when a driver is presented with a yellow signal at traffic
3.3 Traffic signals in form of arrow
(2) While a yellow signal in the form of an arrow is displayed,—
(a) a driver facing the signal must not enter the controlled area and
must not make the movement indicated by the signal, unless the driver
intends to proceed in the direction indicated by the signal and, when the
signal first appears, the driver’s vehicle is so close to the controlled
area that it cannot safely be stopped before entering the area:
3.2 Traffic signals in form of disc
(4) While a steady yellow signal in the form of a disc is displayed,—
(a) a driver facing the signal must not enter the controlled area while
the signal is displayed unless the driver’s vehicle is, when the signal
first appears, so close to the controlled area that it cannot safely be
stopped before entering the area:
The above sections of the Road User Rule can be found via:
As above, a driver is required to stop on a yellow signal unless it is not
safe to do so. As there are no specific position where an infringement may
be issued or where fault may be laid, it would be up to the applicable
enforcement agency or the Courts to determine ‘fault’, as this is not the
place of the Transport Agency. As mentioned above, the Courts would need
to determine what laws would have needed to be applied at the time of the
instance, the traffic at the time, the environment, the weather, road
conditions, etc., at the time.
I hope that the above information provides clarification as to the
position of the Transport Agency but you may wish to seek independent
legal advice if you have had an instance where you’ve received an
infringement or an accident has occurred and you are wanting to establish
who was “at fault”.
Dan Thomson / Senior Customer Access Representative
Customer Service Centre
P 0800 108 809
E [email address] / W nzta.govt.nz
Palmerston North Office
Private Bag 11777, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
From: Hugh Davenport
Dear [email address],
Thanks for that. It clarifies a lot in regards to the discretionary powers that the Police apply towards this. I will keep asking for their policies on the situation.
New Zealand Transport Agency
Thank you for contacting the NZ Transport Agency. We are experiencing
larger email volumes than normal so our response time has extended to 5-7
If you need to report a State Highway issue that requires urgent
attention, please call our 24/7 Highway Information Team on 0800 444 449.
If your email is urgent please call us on one of the following between 8am
and 6pm, Mon-Fri:
- Motor vehicle licensing 0800 108 809
- Driver licensing 0800 822 422
- Overseas +64 6 9536200
- Tolling 0800 40 20 20 (Mon-Fri 8am to 8pm and 9am to 5pm weekends)
NZ Transport Agency
Find the latest transport news, information, and advice on our website: