Car hire code of conduct welcomed

A Queenstown rental car manager is pleased others in the industry have taken his company's lead to prevent carnage on the country's roads.

Earlier this month, Greg Wensley, of Wai Hire Cars, launched an app to pre-screen foreign drivers before they got behind the steering wheel.

He told the Otago Daily Times that when the company launched the initiative ''we were told that we would lose business to our competitors who hand out keys 'no questions asked'.''

Yesterday, Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss welcomed a move by the rental vehicle industry to establish a code of best practice.

The code was likely to include increased screening of driver experience, more pre-arrival information about New Zealand driving conditions, and more information sharing between rental operators.

The meeting between 25 rental vehicle companies was convened by the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) and the Rental Vehicle Association New Zealand (RVA) in Auckland this week.

Concerns about the safety of foreign drivers prompted the group to unanimously agree to develop the code as a matter of urgency.

Mr Foss said had raised the code with Ministry of Transport officials and had asked them to consider ''how we can assist its development and implementation''.

''There is no silver bullet here,'' Mr Foss said.

''However, when combined, a number of seemingly small actions build to create a safer system for all road users, including the increasing number of overseas visitors choosing to explore our country by car.''

Mr Wensley told the ODT: ''We are delighted that other operators are recognising they have a moral responsibility to prevent fatalities.

''We hope that it becomes standard practice to educate, pre-screen, and share information among other operators.''

''Taking an extra five minutes to ensure a driver is safe on the road will inevitably end up saving lives,'' he said.

RVA chief executive Barry Kidd said those at yesterday's meeting recognised the need for their sector to take more action.

''We will also be working with other tourism organisations to ensure they are aware of the code of best practice and giving preference to those operators who have agreed to use it,'' Mr Kidd said.

AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon, who attended the meeting, said it was a welcome step by the rental vehicle sector.

''Getting the industry working together and supporting the actions being taken by the government will achieve better road safety outcomes,'' Mr Noon said.

- Additional reporting NZME

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