The Government is changing give way rule at intersections, saying they are confusing and out of step with the rest of the world.
The change will come into effect in early 2012. Cars turning left will no longer give way to oncoming right-turning traffic. Instead, the left-turning vehicle will have the right-of-way.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce says research shows that changing the give way rule could reduce intersection crashes by 7%. Changes are also planned for rules at T intersections.
Mr Joyce says when the Australian state of Victoria removed its rule to give way to the right accident rates were lowered, because it is a more more intuitive way to drive.
An extensive education campaign will be carried out to ensure drivers are aware of the new rules before any changes come into force, the minister says.
The Automobile Association says the current rules cause about 200 crashes a year.
Motoring affairs manager Mike Noon says when the Victorian state government made similar changes the effect was dramatic and long-lasting, with intersection crash rates dropping significantly.
New rules for motorcycles and mopeds
The Government is also introducing new requirements for motorcycle and moped riders to improve safety.
Mr Joyce says the Cabinet has approved the changes which are part of the Government's 10-year Safer Journeys road safety strategy.
They include strengthening motorcycle licence tests and making them more motorcycle specific, and requiring all motorcyclists to complete an approved driving course to reduce their time on a restricted licence.
All novice motorcyclists, regardless of their age, will be subject to the same minimum time requirements at the restricted licence stage.
All moped riders will be be required to complete a moped-specific basic handling skills test, along with a motorcycle learner theory test to obtain a new class of licence which will be phased in over three years.
There will also be a power-to-weight restriction for novice riders.
Mr Joyce says motorcyclists are 20 times more at risk of being in a fatal or serious crash than car drivers per kilometre driven.
He says after declining in the late 1990s, motorcycle related deaths increased by 68% since 2004. Motorcycle registration quadrupled over the same period.