Some coordination equilibriums are more efficient than others. Here in Kiwiland, we drive on the left-hand side of the road like the Brits and Japanese, which gives us very nice access to second-hand Japanese cars for which we'd otherwise need to compete with the Americans.
The odder road rule has been "Give way to the right". Now, this always makes sense in roundabouts where the equivalent is "give way to traffic inside the circle". Very sensible. But it's been applied more broadly. If two opposing cars want to turn onto the same side street, the one making the right-hand turn (crossing traffic) has the right of way.
That saves minor amounts of money in that we don't have to have as many traffic lights with arrows on them for turning traffic, but means there's reasonably complex calculation required before making a left hand turn. Why? Because if another oncoming car can cut-off the fellow turning right, then you can turn. Sometimes, that other car will swerve to go around the turning car, sometimes it won't. The same calculation applies if you're making the right hand turn: will the car behind the left-hand turning car swerve out and cut you off, or wait behind the turning car in which case you have the right of way. Our Erskine visitors always find this the worst part of adjusting to NZ driving.
The "true but little known fact" is that the official rules also give right of way to right-turning vehicles from minor side streets over right-turning vehicles from the main street because the car on the minor street is to the right of the car on the major street. Unless, as I understand it, there's a stop line in front of the car on the minor street and no stop line in front of the car on the major street. Except that none of the lines have been repainted in a decade so you never really can tell. Fortunately, people are smarter than rules and have converged on the norm of "major street traffic has right of way over minor street traffic". Except, of course, for newcomers who expect the rules to be as written in the rulebook rather than learning them from established practice.
The government has proposed a rule change so we're more in line with international norms: folks turning left will have right of way over folks turning right. I like the move if it's accompanied by retrofitting of some turn arrows on otherwise difficult intersections.
But while we're considering changing the road rules, here's one that really really ought to be adopted at the same time. Allow left turns on red lights after stopping. Almost all of North America (not Montreal) allows right on red except in spots where it's specifically prohibited; New York reverses the default rule. There surely will be some places where heavy pedestrian traffic or obstructed views makes it unsafe; it oughtn't be hard to single out those few places for "No turn on red" signs. But the default rule ought to allow such turns.
Confession time: I made left turns on red for the first year I lived here 'till I figured out that it was banned and I could be ticketed. Now I only do it when feeling particularly nostalgic and nobody's looking.
US data suggests very few accidents from these turns relative to the efficiencies gained.
If we're changing the rules anyway, now's the time to change this one. Make it so!