Apex Car Rentals has denied allegations it rented a vehicle
to an Indian national without giving advice about driving on
New Zealand roads.
Vinod Deviprasad Singh (49), property adviser of India,
admitted dangerous driving before Judge Michael Turner in the
Queenstown District Court yesterday, following numerous
complaints about his driving on Monday.
In court yesterday, Singh, through his lawyer and an
associate, said he had not been advised about driving in New
Zealand at the point of hire and while he had ''noticed'' the
yellow centre lines, he ''has not understood'' not to cross
Judge Turner then asked if, in hindsight, ''it would be
better for you to have been told about painted lines on our
roads and what they meant and how you're expected to drive in
our country before you're given a rental car?''.
Singh's associate said that would have been of assistance.
Judge Turner said the situation Singh found himself in was
becoming ''all too common'' in New Zealand, particularly in
courts in the lower South Island.
''People from overseas with an international driver's licence
are automatically entitled to drive in this country [when]
they know nothing about our road rules, our road signs ...
and most likely know little about the state of our roads.
''This country has an entirely different driving culture from
the country you come from.
''Your offending has not been brought about by deliberate
intent, but by you not knowing what our road rules are and
what's expected of you.''
Prosecuting Sergeant Ian Collin said Singh and his wife and
their children, aged 15 and 8, arrived in Christchurch on May
1 with another family.
Singh hired a car from Apex Rentals at Christchurch
International Airport to travel in convoy with the other
family around the South Island.
About 3.55pm on Monday, Singh was travelling on State
Highways 8 and 6 between Beaumont and Queenstown and was seen
to cross the centre line numerous times and to pass on double
Four times he crossed entirely into the opposite lane, at one
point causing two oncoming vehicles to take evasive action.
He was observed driving straight on blind corners; he pulled
out in front of a motorist near the Roaring Meg, on the
Kawarau Gorge road; driving erratically; and driving the
vehicle without using headlights despite fading light.
After being stopped by police, he conceded ''at times he had
driven on the wrong side of the road'', stating the ''corners
were too sharp''.
Duty solicitor Sonia Vidal said Singh had been driving for 20
years and had no previous convictions, but he did not fully
understand what yellow and white lines in the middle of New
Zealand roads meant.
''He wasn't aware of the alarm and concern he was causing by
Singh was fined $400, court costs $130 and disqualified for
six months, with Immigration New Zealand to be advised and
fines and costs to be paid before he leaves the country this
Apex Car Rentals reservations manager Tony Quinlivan, of
Christchurch, when spoken to by the Otago Daily Times after
sentencing, denied Singh had not been informed about road
Mr Quinlivan said Singh had been briefed verbally about
driving in New Zealand and had received written information -
''What's different about driving in New Zealand'' - which he
took with him when he hired the vehicle. Advice given
included to keep left, abide by road signs and speed limits
and not cross double yellow lines.
Under ''Overtaking'', the leaflet says, ''You must not cross
a solid yellow line on your side of the road as this
indicates it's too dangerous to overtake.''
Mr Quinlivan said every person who hired a vehicle was given
the same information - the written instructions were given to
them along with their rental contract..
''We emphasise to people there are road rules ... we
emphasise the most important things, speed limits, road
signs, keep left.
''Every rental car company is going to do exactly the same
Mr Quinlivan said the general issue of tourist drivers on New
Zealand roads was of ''tremendous concern to the entire
''We're wanting people to come here and have a great
experience. If there are areas where we think their
experience can be improved, then we will most certainly be
looking at ways to [do that].''
Last week, about 45 people from agencies, including rental
car companies, ACC, the New Zealand Transport Agency, Tourism
New Zealand and the Tourism Industry Association met in
Queenstown to discuss the issue.