Glossary

Found a tricky word or confusing term? We've got the answers.


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Click or tap the first letter of the word you want to know the meaning of. You'll be taken to the right place on the page. 

2
2-second rule

A 2- second gap you must have between your vehicle and the vehicle in front when driving in good conditions.

4
4-second rule

To have a 4-second gap between your vehicle and the vehicle in front when driving in bad conditions or when towing a trailer or being tailgated. 

A
Advisory

Something that gives you information.

Airbags

A bag that automatically fills with air if the vehicle is involved in a crash in order to protect the driver or a passenger from injury.

Alter your senses

Changing the way you see, hear, feel or react to things around you.

Angle parking

Parking spaces that are angled towards the kerb, making it easier to drive into and reverse out of.

Approaching

Getting close to, coming up to something.

Asphalt

A mixture of bitumen and gravel compacted to make a smooth black road surface. 

Assault

Using or threatening to use physical force against another person.

Authorised vehicle inspection centre

A place that can give your vehicle its warrant of fitness, such as a vehicle testing station or a garage.

Automatic

A vehicle with an automatic transmission (gearbox).

Automatically

When something happens on it's own, without you having to do anything.

Axle

The bar that the front and rear wheels are attached to.

B
Blind spot

Any areas around the vehicle that can't be seen by the driver when looking forward or in their mirrors.

Blowout

Sudden bursting of a tyre.

Bonnet

Bonnet

A hinged cover that allows access to a car's engine.

Booster seat

A seat that raises a child up off the car seat so that the seat belt fits properly.

Boot

The storage area at the rear of the car.

Brake pedal

The foot pedal used to slow or stop the car.

Breaching

‘Breaching’ your licence conditions means you’re breaking the law by going against the conditions of your licence.

C
Careless

Not driving with the care & attention expected of a reasonable and sensible driver.

Carrier tray

The deck on the back of a ute for carrying goods on.

Centreline

Laned road 3

The line in the middle of the road (usually painted on) that separates traffic going in different directions.

Child restraint

Child restraint image

A special seat or harness used to keep children safe in the car.

Clearway

A road over which a no-stopping or parking restriction applies. (Signage will indicate the periods during which the clearway restriction applies.)

Collision

A crash between two moving things.

Compulsory

Something that you have to do.

Concealed

Things that are hard to see or hidden.

Condition

The state something is in.

Conditions

(driving) The situation on the road that affects how you should drive, including the road surface, weather, amount of traffic or light.

(licence) Rules that apply to your driver licence. For example, on a restricted licence, you can‘t drive alone after 10pm.

Considerate

Thinking about what other people need.

Convenience

Something being easy to use.

Convicted

Where a court of law has been found someone guilty of a criminal offence.

Country road

A road that is outside of a city or town.

Coupling

A device that connects a trailer to a towing vehicle.

Courtesy

Good manners, being polite.

Cross-hatching

Part of the road with yellow cross-hatched lines that you must not stop on. (You must not enter this area if your passage is blocked by traffic ahead).

Cross-intersection

1.0 Glossary1 JS 01

The place where two roads meet and form the shape of a cross.

Crossroads

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The place where two roads meet and form the shape of a cross.

Crumple-zone

Part of a motor vehicle (usually the front and the back) that is designed to collapse easily in a crash to absorb the impact.

D
Dangerous

Driving in a way that could be dangerous to another person.

Dead-end street

A street with only one way in or out (also known as a cul-de-sac).

Demerit points

Points against your driver licence when you commit a traffic offence. 100 or more points within two years means you lose your licence for three months. 

Diesel

A type of fuel.

Disqualified

If you’re disqualified from driving, you can’t drive or get a licence to drive.

Driving conditions

The situation on the road that affects how you should drive, including the road surface, weather, amount of traffic, and whether it’s dark or light.

Driving dangerously

Driving that puts the public and other road users at risk of injury or could damage their property. 

E
Exhaust system

Pipes to take away the waste gases (exhaust) from the car's engine.

F
Fatigue

Tiredness, weariness or exhaustion.

Fire hydrant

fire hydrant option A

A connection point where firefighters can access a water supply.

Fluorescent

A very bright colour that reflects the light.

Flush median strip

A strip marked in the middle of the road with white diagonal lines to provide a safe place for vehicles to wait before turning right or when they have turned right onto the road from a side road or driveway.

Footwell

The space where you put your feet when sitting in the front passenger seat.

Forbidden

Not allowed.

G
Give Way rules

Road rules that allow all road users to know who needs to give way and when they can go safely. 

Glovebox

A space built into the dashboard for storing small items.

Golden-rule

An important rule that should always be followed.

Gravel

Small, loose stones that are sometimes used as a road surface - particularly on narrow country roads.

Gridlock

Gridlock cropped

When vehicles are bumper to bumper and not moving. This is also known as a traffic jam.

Guardian

A person who is in charge of a child.

H
Hazard

Anything a driver could have a collision with when driving.

Hazard lights

Indicator lights that flash at the same time to warn other road users that the vehicle is a temporary hazard. For example, if it has broken down.

Hazy

Misty or not clear.

Hitchhikers

People who get free rides in passing vehicles.

I
Ignition

The switch that activates a vehicles main electrical systems, allowing the engine to be turned on and off.

Illegal

If something is illegal, it‘s against the law. This is the opposite of legal.

Impaired driving

Driving that’s made worse by something, such as drugs, medications or alcohol.

Impairment

When your body or emotions have been affected in a way that makes you unsafe to drive.

Impound

Taking your vehicle away from you so you can't drive it.

Impounding

Impounding your vehicle means taking it away from you so you can’t drive it.

Indicator

Flashing lights on a vehicle that warn other road users that you're about to change direction. For example, leave or return to the kerb, turn, or change lanes.

Indicator lights

Flashing lights on a vehicle that warn other road users that you're about to change direction. For example, leave or return to the kerb, turn, or change lanes.

Inflate

Fill with air.

Insure

Pay money to a company so that they will replace or fix the insured item if it gets lost, stolen, or damaged.

Intersection

Where two or more roads join or cross, including where a public entrance or exit joins a road. For example, entrances to and exits from a supermarket.

K
Kea crossing

A crossing near a school that is marked by orange signs, and has school patrol stop signs that swing out on to the road. Also called "school crossings".

Kerb

Curb

The edge between the footpath and the road.

L
Lane

The part of the road your vehicle travels in, separated from other lanes by painted lines.

Laned

A road divided into lanes.

Legal

Something the law says is OK to do.

Legal high

Any stimulant or mood-altering substance not banned by the law.

Licence conditions

Rules that apply to your driver licence. For example, if you have a restricted licence, you can‘t drive alone after 10pm.

Load

Something that is carried.

Loading zone

Loading zone

A type of parking space where you can only stop briefly to drop off and pick up people and goods. It‘s marked by yellow painted lines and text on the road, and a sign.

M
Maintained

To keep in good condition.

Manual

A vehicle with a manual transmission (gearbox).

Median strip

A strip of land or part of the road that separates vehicles travelling in opposite directions. 

Medications

Pills or liquids that a sick person uses to get better again.

Merge

Where two or more traffic streams join together to become one stream.

Merge lanes

Where two lanes come together to form one lane or when one lane ends requiring traffic to merge across into the next lane. For example, motorway onramps. 

Merge like a zip

The recommended way of merging, where a vehicle in the left lane goes, then the vehicle in the right lane goes, and so on (coming together just like a zip). 

Micrograms per litre

A measure of how much alcohol is on your breath.

Misjudge

Judge wrongly or mistake.

Mobility

The ability to move around freely and easily without restriction.

Mobility scooter

A battery-powered vehicle that is used by people who need help moving around freely and easily, and is less than 1500W.

Modification

Changes or adjustments made to a vehicle.

Modify

Make a change.

Moped

Moped2

A two-wheeled vehicle with a motor. It has a much smaller body and engine than a motorcycle, and its top speed is 50 km/h.

Mudguards

A cover over the wheel of a vehicle.

Multi-laned

A road where two or more lanes are available for use by vehicles travelling in the same direction.

N
Narrow shoulder

The edge of the road to the left of the white road edgeline (the line that marks the far left of the road) that isn't wide enough to drive on. 

O
Obey

To follow orders, do as you're told.

Offence

Breaking the law.

Official

Approved by a council, government or other authority.

Oncoming lane

A lane on the other side of the road used by traffic coming towards you.

Oncoming traffic

0.0 Glossary1 JS 03

Traffic that is coming towards you, rather than going in the same direction.

Open road

A road usually outside of an urban area, where a higher speed limit applies (100 km/h).

P
Parallel

Things being side by side and always the same distance apart.

Patient

OK with having to wait for something, not getting upset if you have to wait.

Pedestrian

A person who is walking on the footpath or road.

Pedestrian crossing

A place on the road (painted with parallel white stripes) for pedestrians to cross the road safely. 

Penalties

Punishment.

Penalty

A punishment that you get for breaking a rule.

Permanent

Something that lasts for a long time and won't be changed or taken away.

Permit

An official document that allows someone to do something.

Primary caregiver

The main helper who looks after someone.

Private property

Land owned by a person (or a group of people) for their own use, which the public doesn't have access to.

R
Railway level crossing

A place where a railway line crosses a road at the same level, meaning you have to drive over the railway line.

Raised traffic island

A raised concrete area in the middle of the road where pedestrians can wait, and which you can't drive on.

Reckless

Driving dangerously either on purpose or ignoring the possible consequences.

Reckless driving

Driving dangerously, even though you know you might be putting other people in danger.

Reflector

Material that reflects light (usually glass or metal).

Reflectorised

Something that is made to reflect light.

Registered

A vehicle that is driven on the road must be registered. The vehicle will be issued a certificate of registration and have number plates fitted.

Reinstated

Given back to you.

Reversing

Moving backwards.

Right angle

An angle of 90 degrees.

Right of way

The myth that you always have the right to go when someone else should have given way. Be prepared to stop, as other drivers do make mistakes. 

Right turning bay

6.3 Using Lanes 1 JS 03

An area marked on the road with painted lines and an arrow, for vehicles to use when turning right or waiting to turn right. 

Rigid

Stiff, firm.

Road User Charges licence

A licence to show that the owner of a light diesel vehicle or heavy motor vehicle (such as a truck) has paid their share towards maintaining the roads.

Road users

Any people who use a road, including drivers, motorcyclists, passengers, cyclists or pedestrians.

Roadside hazards

Things on the roadside that you could crash into if you were to drive off the road. For example, trees, poles, posts, ditches, drains, cliffs or steep banks.

Roadworthy

When a vehicle is in safe enough condition to be driven on the road.

Roundabout

An intersection with a central, circular traffic island that all vehicles must travel around in a clockwise direction. 

S
School crossing

A crossing near a school that is marked by orange signs, and has school patrol stop signs that swing out on to the road. Also called "kea crossings".

Scooter

A push vehicle with a steering handle and two wheels, which is moved by standing with one leg on the scooter and pushing one foot against the ground.

Sealed edge

The edge of the road to the left of the white road edgeline (the line that marks the far left of the road) - also known as the shoulder. 

Shared zone

A road used by both pedestrians and vehicles. 

Shoulder

The edge of the road to the left of the white road edgeline (the line that marks the far left of the road).

Signal

Signal (verb): indicate, show people what you're going to do. 
Signal (noun): action showing people what you're going to do.

Silencer

Reduces the amount of noise made by a cars exhaust system. It is often called a muffler.

Social security benefit

Money from the government.

Space-saver tyres

Smaller tyres that should only be used for a short time, to replace a flat or damaged tyre.

Spouse

Another word for a husband or wife.

Studs

Small raised markers attached to the road surface to form a road marking. For example, to mark the centreline.

Suburban

Areas in a town or city where people live or work.

Supervisor

Someone that sits in the front passenger seat who has held a full driver licence for at least two years.

Suspended

A suspended licence isn’t legal any more, and you can’t use it to drive.

T
T-intersection

Where one road joins another at right angles, but doesn't cross it.

Tailgating

To drive dangerously close to the rear of the vehicle in front.

Temporary

Something that will only last for a short time.

Torn

Ripped.

Towed

When a trailer, caravan or another vehicle is connected to and pulled along by a vehicle. 

Traction

The grip that tyres have on the road.

Traffic conditions

The amount of traffic on a road and the way it‘s moving.

Traffic island

Traffic island

An area in the middle of the road (using painted lines or raised concrete) for pedestrians to use when crossing the road, or for guiding traffic.

Transit

The movement of people or goods from one place to another.

Tread

The pattern of grooves molded into a tyre to help it grip the road.

Turning bay

6.3 Using Lanes 1 JS 03

An area marked on the road with painted lines and an arrow for vehicles to use when turning right or waiting to turn right. 

U
Unattended

Without a person in the car who can drive it.

Uncontrolled intersection

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An intersection with nothing to control the movement of vehicles. For example, no 'Stop' or 'Give Way' signs, traffic lights or a roundabout.

Unlaned

A road that doesn't have a marked centreline or lane markings. 

Urban

Areas in a town or city where people live or work.

Ute

A vehicle that is the same size as a car with a tray or deck on the back for carrying goods.

V
Variable

Something that is able to be changed.

Vehicle

Anything that moves on wheels or tracks and is used for transporting people or goods. This includes trucks, cars, motorbikes, mopeds, buses, trains and bicycles.

Visibility

How much you can see and be seen in the driving conditions. For example, weather and level of natural light.

W
Warning sign

A sign that tells you that you need to be aware of a hazard or road feature coming up.

Weather conditions

Weather that affects how you should drive. For example rain, snow or ice causing slippery roads; sunlight causing sunstrike; rain, snow or fog reducing visibility.

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