Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse says he will
not rule out making tourists sit a driving test before
letting them get behind the wheel on New Zealand roads.
But for now, road safety authorities will focus on improving
driving in the Queenstown region, where the rate of crashes
involving foreign drivers is disproportionately high.
Speaking at the National Party annual conference in
Wellington yesterday, Mr Woodhouse said stricter measures for
overseas visitors such as making them sit a test before
hiring a rental car were being considered.
The minister was responding to a 31,000-signature petition
presented to him last week by 10-year-old Sean Roberts, from
Sean proposed driving tests for foreigners after his father
was killed by a visiting student motorist when he was riding
a motorbike on the Lindis Pass, near Wanaka, in 2012.
Mr Woodhouse said: "I haven't ruled that out, but it is going
to be difficult. What I have said to Sean is what we will do
... is have a look at every idea we can to ensure that those
drivers are not at greater risk than we are."
The issue of tourist crashes has returned to the spotlight
following two fatal crashes involving foreign drivers earlier
Mr Woodhouse said tourists were not at a greater risk of car
crashes than New Zealanders. But in the lower South Island,
tourists were involved in a far greater rate of crashes.
Police estimated foreign motorists were involved in around 25
per cent of crashes in the central and lower South Island,
compared to 2 per cent nationwide.
This problem prompted the Visiting Drivers programme, which
was launched last month. The programme, led by the New
Zealand Transport Agency, would research why drivers from
outside Queenstown, or from overseas, were having difficulty
on the roads.
Mr Woodhouse told delegates about New Zealand's falling road
toll, but said more work was needed.
The minister believed technological advances such as
self-driving cars and adaptive cruise control could allow
government to set a goal of a "zero road toll" within his
"These things are already in. The question is how do we
introduce them into the market so that people will drive the
safest cars they can afford?"