The vexed question of overseas drivers, and what can or
should be done to (a) improve their safety record and (b)
keep other motorists safer on our highways, has become a
Just this week, in the Queenstown District Court, an Indian
tourist admitted dangerous driving, after his erratic
performance in Otago caused numerous complaints to police.
As Judge Michael Turner observed, the situation the tourist
found himself in was becoming ''all too common'',
particularly in courts in the lower South Island.
Last week the ODT reported how a governance group is likely
to be formed to tackle the issue, the first step in a ''three
to five-year project to lower the number of tourists involved
in serious or fatal crashes on New Zealand roads''.
That story caught the eye of a Wash reader, who preferred not
to be named. She rang with one idea she thought might make a
difference - the greater use of ''direction arrows'' on our
My caller said she did a lot of travelling in New Zealand and
could not believe how few of these ''arrows'' she finds -
''How far do you travel before you come across an arrow these
days?''Surely if more arrows were used, they would prove
''helpful reminders'' to overseas drivers about which side of
the road they should be travelling on.
Well, it sounded like a good idea to me - practical and
relatively simple - so I put this to the New Zealand
Transport Agency to find out what its policy was on the use
Jim Harland, the NZTA's southern regional director and the
man leading the governance group, provided this
response:''These arrows are used on low-volume tourist routes
carrying less than 5000 vehicles a day. We do not use them on
higher-volume roads as there is normally enough traffic
visible to people entering the road way to remind them to
keep left. The arrows can be a hazard to motorcyclists if
placed in the wrong location, so they only tend to be used on
straight sections of road where approaching motorcyclists can
''The layout used has an arrow marked in the traffic lane
immediately downstream of a rest area exit (or side road) so
that a driver exiting out of a rest area (or side road) can
identify which lane they must be in. A set of arrows are
painted a further 200m down the road or before a hazard such
as a curve to remind the driver to keep left.
''Their use will be looked at by the governance group.''
I'm told some examples of routes carrying fewer than 5000
vehicles a day include many of the main roads in Otago, other
than State Highway 1.
That topic leads nicely into a follow-up to our story earlier
this week about how motorists deal with finding their way
blocked by farmers droving stock on the road.
Neville Harris, of Wanaka, who describes himself as a
''retired farmer'', recalled spending many hours on the road
driving large mobs of sheep between his two properties in the
Upper Clutha area.
One time two of his musterers were driving a large mob of
freshly weaned merino lambs from Luggate to Mt Barker when a
speeding car failed to stop and ploughed into the mob,
killing several lambs.
The musterers told the driver that unless he paid for the
loss, they would call the police.
''So, out comes this guy's cheque book and he writes out a
cheque to cover the cost,'' he said.
''When the boys arrived back at the yards all smiles at what
had happened, the cheque firmly at hand, I was not so
pleased, but no good crying over spilt milk.
''I told them we may as well have a few jugs at the Luggate
pub on the way home to drown our sorrows, which we duly had,
and all was forgotten, or so I thought until I visited the
hotel some time later and found the cheque pinned on the wall
- which is where all bounced cheques finish up!''