Greg Murphy at Hampton Downs Racetrack. Photo / Jason
Tourists should be tested before being allowed to drive
in New Zealand, says motorsport legend Greg Murphy.
Speaking to the Herald's Driven magazine, Murphy said the
Government and rental car companies needed to play a bigger
role in ensuring drivers from overseas were safe on our
Tourists should also have to prove they had some experience
behind the wheel.
During an interview about his role as Men's Health Week
ambassador and his work with the Motor Trade Association, the
four-time Bathurst winner raised concerns about overseas
drivers in New Zealand following recent, high-profile fatal
"It's been proven that our driving conditions and driving on
the left side of the road are playing a part [in tourist
crashes]," Murphy told Driven.
"There has to be far more than just turning up with an
international licence ... Everyone who comes to New Zealand
as a tourist renting a car or campervan should have proof of
length of licence. I would suggest at least four years
minimum," he said.
Murphy, who has returned to New Zealand with his young family
after racing fulltime in Australia in the V8 Supercar series
for nearly 20 years, urged the Government to introduce
legislation ensuring the competency of overseas drivers was
checked before they could hire vehicles.
Working with rental vehicle companies was part of this, he
Over the Queen's Birthday weekend, four people were killed by
foreign drivers in two fatal crashes. Dutch man Johannes
Appelman, 52, has been charged over the Canterbury crash
which claimed the lives of schoolgirls Abigail Hone, 12, and
Ella Summerfield, 12, and Ella's mother Sally, 49.
American tourist Cody Dickey, 23, was this week fined $5500
and disqualified from driving for 18 months for causing the
death of Auckland grandmother Robyn Derrick, 52, in a crash
on the Coromandel Peninsula.
Murphy said the Government and rental car companies needed to
be able to prove overseas motorists could safely navigate New
Zealand roads before allowing them to drive.
"The Government has done some very good things, but this is
clearly a problem that needs some attention very quickly.
"It would be quite wise that we ... check [overseas drivers]
are competent before we give them the keys to a vehicle. If
that involves doing an oral test and doing some sort of test
online before they arrive ... we need to have a better
understanding of their competency before handing the keys
Barry Kidd, chief executive of the Rental Vehicle
Association, said any testing of overseas drivers here could
have implications for Kiwi travellers wanting to drive
"I think it's an impractical solution and I think there are a
number of issues that it would raise for our drivers
overseas," he said.
Many operators already provided instruction booklets and
links to online videos about driving in New Zealand for
overseas drivers, he said.
Automobile Association motoring affairs general manager Mike
Noon said there needed to be extensive research and analysis
into crash statistics before any changes were made.
"There are 2 million tourists coming through New Zealand each
year and it would be naive to think they wouldn't be driving.
"We need to understand if there are any particular different
trends in these [tourist] crashes compared to crashes that
involve New Zealanders."
Associate Minister of Transport Michael Woodhouse said
transport officials were working on a special project
targeting overseas drivers.
"As part of the project, research is being undertaken to
better understand why overseas visiting drivers are
experiencing difficulties on New Zealand roads and how safer
choices can be encouraged," he said.
- by Liz Dobson, Teuila Fuatai, Mogan Tait
Foreign drivers at fault
558 crashes resulting in death and injury in 2013 involved
75% of the cases were caused by overseas drivers
11 of these ended in deaths
7 of the fatal crashes involved overseas drivers who "failed
to adjust to local conditions"
Source: New Zealand Transport Agency