A collaboration between the New Zealand Transport Agency
and southern organisations is aimed at reducing the high rate
of death and injury road crashes in the South caused by
NZTA southern regional director Jim Harland said it was one
of the organisation's ''signature projects''.
While the initiative was in its early stages, some action
could be taken this year, he said.
There were in-flight videos translated into languages
including Chinese, to encourage people to make the right
decisions, but they were not compulsory viewing in the way
immigration videos were.
''We'll need to look into that as well,'' Mr Harland said.
''We intend to announce initiatives as soon as we can,'' he
''Where we can do something, we'll do it sooner rather than
Mr Harland was in Dunedin as the NZTA toured the South
Figures released recently showed overseas drivers were
involved in at least 558 crashes resulting in death or injury
in New Zealand last year.
In about three-quarters of the cases, including 11 fatal
crashes, the visitors were found to be at fault.
The figures also showed the lower South Island experienced
more tourist driver crashes than other areas.
Mr Harland said there was ''evidence to suggest in this part
of the world there are parts of the network overseas drivers
are struggling to deal with''.
That included drivers from other parts of New Zealand.
Problem areas included State Highway 94 from Gore to Milford,
and, in some areas, including ''rural, straight roads'' in
Southland, the percentage of crashes caused by overseas
drivers was as high as 24%.
Mr Harland said the collaborative group looking at the
problem involved representatives from the NZTA, southern
local government, police, rental car associations, Tourism
New Zealand and others.
The group met first in May, had had meetings since then, and
would meet again on August 6.
Technical experts would have ''a really good look'' to see if
road design had anything to do with problems in accident
hot-spots, to discover if ''quick interventions'' could be
Mr Harland said the group was also looking into whether
vehicles overseas drivers hired were safe for their purposes,
whether their driving experience and knowledge equipped them
to drive on New Zealand roads, and whether they made the
appropriate judgements on speed.
''We're looking into all the data around that for drivers
from different countries and the rest of New Zealand.''
As well, collaboration within industry groups could start
''What we're looking at is some competency-based questions so
that when people book their fly-drive package through an
agent overseas, or when they turn up to the rental car
counter to pick up their keys, there are some screening
questions you can put to people that will give some sense of
their driving competence and experience.''
''Depending on their answers, you might spend a little more
time with them before you hand over your keys.''
The rental car industry was also looking at data-sharing so
if a driver was turned down by one company, that knowledge
would be shared with others.
''That would be obviously very powerful, if somebody was put
off the road because they were considered too high-risk.''
That would be industry-led, however, and not compulsory.