Prime Minister John Key does not believe laws need to be
tightened around tourists driving on New Zealand roads.
Two of this weekend's fatal crashes have involved tourists,
one driving a campervan that allegedly crossed the centreline
and killed an Auckland woman in the Coromandel; the other a
driver who allegedly ran a stop sign in Canterbury, killing a
Sumner woman, her daughter and her daughter's friend,
Mr Key, speaking in Samoa today, said he didn't believe
changes were needed to current laws or testing requirements.
"If you look at the accident rate of tourists who come and
drive in New Zealand versus New Zealanders themselves, it's
pretty consistent. They're about the same accident rate per
capita. So I don't think that's a big issue."
As Minister of Tourism, he said there were a number of
working groups looking at the issue.
"Increasingly, the rental car companies and also some
airlines are playing proactive role in trying to improve
driver education and I think there will be a couple of groups
established to ensure we're doing everything we can," Mr Key
"We do need to recognise that some of our roads are quite
difficult terrain for people who may be inexperienced
drivers. Lindis Pass in the middle of winter, that's tough
terrain for any driver, let alone someone who might not be
experienced driving in those conditions. It's a good thing
the rental companies and airlines are starting to play a
bigger role, and I think the Government just needs to work
alongside them to see if there's more we can do."
Dog and Lemon car review editor, Clive Matthew-Wilson, a road
safety campaigner, said the Government needed to make it much
harder to get behind the wheel of a rental car here.
He believed travellers should be banned from renting cars
until they had passed an online driving test.
"It's not just a question of putting some questions and
answers on a website and hoping people look there. The
Government needs to implement an interactive test that must
be passed before a vehicle can be legally rented to a foreign
Assistant Commissioner of road policing Dave Cliff said
yesterday that police worked with the Accident Compensation
Corporation (ACC), the Ministry of Transport and New Zealand
Transport Agency to tackle the issue, including encouraging
rental companies to brief customers about the road rules and
regulations before they drove off.
Nationally, fewer than 2 per cent of fatal crashes involved
overseas drivers, he said.
However, in some popular tourist areas such as Queenstown,
that figure rose to around 25 per cent, Mr Cliff said.
Kate Meldrum, general manager marketing and customer
experience at Tourism Holdings Limited, said yesterday that
tourists who used its campervans were given extensive
information on the New Zealand road rules in several
languages, before and during their trip.