Action needed for road safety

Tourists have been boosting our economy for years, but are they really safe driving on our roads?

Recent fatal accidents have raised the controversial issue of whether they should be trained for driving in New Zealand.

Transport agencies and families of victims are leading the discussions on this issue.

So many innocent families have been ripped apart as a result of dangerous driving from tourists, and the problem is if something does not change, it is not going to get any better.

It is an important decision as it could possibly save your life or another New Zealander's.

It may not be you who has taken a small turn over the line, but it may affect you.

Less than a month ago, an Indian tourist was seen driving on the wrong side of the road, four times - even on blind corners.

The media reported the driver stated in court he did not know what the centre line was for.

He said where he was from, drivers had the right to cross the centre line whenever they needed to, as long as there was no oncoming traffic.

Meanwhile, a towing company in Geraldine had three vehicles in its yard which had been smashed into by tourists and there were reports of six damaged vehicles a few kilometres away in Twizel.

The Tekapo police suggest this was the result of ''appalling driving''.

I think there is clearly a need for a change as there are not just man-made objects being torn apart, but people too.

I feel that problems need solutions and the loss of a human life is tragic - even more so when it could have easily been avoided.

Tourists may still speak in a foreign language when they are in New Zealand, but are they using foreign road rules too?

I must agree it is the perfect time to address such a perfect example of how we as a country are not teaching the basic road rules well enough.

I can appreciate that there may be a rare ''misunderstanding'', but I hope this is not becoming a common trend with tourists.

Media reports show crossing the centre line is becoming a common occurrence.

Inattention may be to blame.

It seems the picturesque scenery is drawing tourists' minds in all directions.

For instance, they might wander to the left and hit the gravel, then over-compensate, go across to the other side of the road and crash.

It is a prevalent occurrence and is putting people at risk.

In my opinion, I think the only way we are going to change is if we realise where we as New Zealanders are going wrong. It may be fair to blame the tourists to some extent, but surely it cannot be all their fault.

Judge Michael Turner proposed in the absence of a mandatory test, it was vital car rental owners made sure no vehicle left the park without having the drivers

taught the basics.

The road rules would be briefly taught, but I think there needs to be more elaborate, yet quick, systems in place.

As a result, we as New Zealanders may witness less uncertainty of foreign road rules impacting on our roads.

Nine-year-old Sean Roberts, from Geraldine, has set up a petition with the aim of preventing tourists driving on New Zealand roads who have not sat a test.

The reason he felt so strongly about this was because his father, Grant Roberts, was killed on the Lindis Pass when a foreign tourist crossed the centre line and took out his motorbike.

The petition has already received 5000 signatures.

I think there are many merits in this petition. Not only could it help make our country roads safer, Sean could see something he feels strongly about put into action.

New Zealand is known for its notorious roads, but we could be known for the leadership to make them safer.

Tourists are a major part of keeping New Zealand's economy stable, so it would be in our best interests to keep them safe, as well as the ones who call this country home.


 By Jessica Dicker, Year 10, Wakatipu High School

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