first of 20,000 steering wheel tags, to reinforce key road
safety messages to tourist drivers visiting New Zealand, was
fitted in Queenstown yesterday to launch a two-month trial.
If successful the project will be rolled out nationally.
The steering wheel tag is the first of 42 initiatives
proposed by a governance group, formed earlier this year as
part of a project aimed at improving road safety for
tourists, as part of the Government's Safer Journeys strategy
and also introduces the ''Safe System'' to New Zealand.
That recognised while mistakes were inevitable, deaths and
serious injuries from road crashes were not.
At yesterday's launch, attended by representatives from the
New Zealand Transport Agency, Tourism Industry Association,
New Zealand Police, the Queenstown Lakes District Council,
the Rental Vehicle Association and rental company
representatives, Queenstown Mayor Vanessa van Uden said the
group had a complex plan of short, medium and long-term
objectives which it would continue to pursue.
NZTA southern regional director Jim Harland said the tags
were designed in conjunction with the agency's traffic
behaviour unit and external consultants who specialised in
Because the tags would be removed from the steering wheels of
rental cars it meant the driver had to ''do something''.
At present the tags were printed only in English, with clear
images, but if the trial was successful they would be printed
in other languages, including Chinese and Indian.
During the trial, drivers would be surveyed and information
collected from police to see what effect, if any, the tags
''Sometimes we just have to back ourselves ... We believe it
can [help],'' Mr Harland said.
Otago rural acting area commander Inspector Andrew Burns said
the tag was ''probably the best thing I've seen''.
Police began noticing ''driving behaviour that was outside
the norm'' from a small group of people, Insp Burns said''[It
was] a very small group of people, but the risk that we saw
... was very, very high.''
Part of the problem was police had limited opportunities to
interact with tourist drivers and influence their driving
behaviour, he said.
Rental Vehicle Association chief executive Barry Kidd said
the issues were complex and there was no ''golden bullet''.
''Improving driver safety is an important issue ... It's
about keeping overseas drivers safe [and] the local community
safe from unsafe and dangerous drivers who are either
ignorant [about] New Zealand driving, or choosing to ignore