No comment on driver nationality rule remains

A guide instructing Southern district police officers to remain tight-lipped to media about the nationality of drivers involved in fatal crashes remains active, despite its creator leaving the force.

Southern road policing manager Inspector Tania Baron issued a set of guidelines in October 2015 telling officers how to respond to media when asked if a driver in a serious or fatal crash was an overseas licence holder.

The guide told them to refrain from commenting on the "nationality or ethnicity of drivers involved in crashes''.

Ms Baron left the police last month.

When The Star asked if the guide remained active after her departure, Southern District prevention manager Inspector Matenga Gray said all drivers on New Zealand roads were treated in the same manner by police ``regardless of whether they hold a New Zealand driver licence or an overseas one''.

"As such, the advice given to police staff is to not comment on the nationality or ethnicity of the driver. It is important that police focus on the road safety messages that apply to everyone. This is advice we still give.''

Ministry of Transport data reveals 74 crashes in Dunedin in 2012-16 involved overseas drivers and accounted for 4% of crashes in the city.

About 6% of crashes during that time involved an overseas driver in New Zealand.

SHAWN.MCAVINUE @thestar.co.nz

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