Many of the crashes involving foreigners were consistent
with errors made by Kiwi drivers.
Overseas drivers were involved in at least 558 crashes
that resulted in death or injury last year.
In about three-quarters of the cases, the visitors were found
at fault, including 11 crashes that were fatal.
Seven of those were attributed to the drivers failing "to
adjust to local conditions", according to crash data recorded
at the scenes.
Transport Agency safety spokeswoman Lisa Rossiter said a
number of elements in New Zealand could cause "unfamiliar"
"The unfamiliar driver is caught out by road design and
layout they're not used to, and unfamiliar signage ... [and]
they get distracted by scenery."
Other factors could include failing to drive to speeds
appropriate to New Zealand roads, or pulling out of rest
areas on quiet roads into the wrong lane, Ms Rossiter added.
However, many of the crashes involving foreigners were
consistent with errors made by Kiwi drivers too.
Over Queen's Birthday weekend, four people were killed by
foreign drivers in two fatal crashes.
Johannes Jacobus Appelman, 52, of Holland allegedly failed to
stop at a stop sign at Rakaia in Canterbury on Saturday
night. He has been charged over the resulting crash, which
killed Abigail Hone, 12, her friend Ella Summerfield, 12, and
Ella's mother Sally, 49.
The previous night, on the Coromandel Peninsula, US tourist
Cody Dickey crossed the centreline in his campervan, killing
Aucklander Robyn Eilleen Derrick, a passenger in an oncoming
The crash figures, released by the Transport Agency, were
sourced from the police Crash Analysis System, which is
estimated to capture data on about two-thirds of injury
crashes - meaning there may have been more than 800 overseas
drivers involved in injury crashes last year.
The 11 fatal crashes caused by them were down from a high of
17 in 2012. Ms Rossiter said the bottom of the South Island
experienced more tourist-driver crashes than other areas, but
work had begun in Central Otago relating to road safety and
education under a Transport Agency "signature project" to
decrease crashes involving foreign drivers.
In the past 10 years, the highest percentage of fatal road
crashes caused by visitors was just 4.2 per cent of the
annual road toll, in 2012.
Last year, that dropped to 2.9.
However, the percentage has been slowly trending up over the
past 20 years. In 1994, it was just 0.7 per cent.
In the past week, road safety campaigner and Dog & Lemon
car review editor Clive Matthew-Wilson suggested the
Government needed to tighten the rules for tourists to get
behind the wheel in New Zealand.
He said travellers should be banned from renting cars until
they passed an online driving test.
But Prime Minister John Key does not believe laws need to be
"If you look at the accident rate of tourists who come and
drive in New Zealand versus New Zealanders themselves, it's
"They're about the same accident rate per capita. So I don't
think that's a big issue ... [But] we do need to recognise
that some of our roads are [on] quite difficult terrain for
people who may be inexperienced drivers."
Meanwhile, up to 1,000 mourners are expected at Abi Hone's
funeral at Sumner School on Monday.
Hone family spokesman Darren Wright said pupils would be
given the option of remaining in class, going home or
attending the funeral.
"It's completely up to them," Mr Wright said. "The family
wants to get as much support as they can."
Abi and Ella both attended the school, and their families
were integral in fundraising to build the hall where the
funeral will be held.
A large oak tree in the central playground has become a focal
point for the grieving community, its trunk covered with
cards, origami cranes, flowers, and balloons.
Mr Wright said relatives and friends of the Hone family were
arriving from all the world, including England and France.
The support from them, and the wider community, was giving
the Hones a "huge amount of strength".
"There are a lot of people hurting over this," Mr Wright
said. "It seems to have very much impacted people across
Canterbury and NZ."
It is unclear when the funerals for Ella and mum Sally will
take place. Mrs Summerfield's husband, Shane, who was badly
hurt in the crash and is still in Christchurch Hospital, is
awake and talking but overwhelmed with grief, a family friend
The extended family are taking the double loss "pretty bloody
tough", said Wyn Mossman, Mr Summerfield's business partner.
Last night, they released a short statement thanking the
public, particularly the Sumner community, "for all their
love and support".