Overseas driver education delayed

A crash last year caused by a foreign driver taking the wrong side of the road. The crash was on...
A crash last year caused by a foreign driver taking the wrong side of the road. The crash was on State Highway 6 at Ten Mile Creek bluff, south of Barrytown. Photo: Greymouth Star.
A proposed driving programme aimed at teaching tourist drivers New Zealand road rules will start later than originally hoped so the organisers can "do it right''.

Earlier this year, Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell indicated it planned to hold training sessions aimed at overseas licence holders visiting Wanaka and Queenstown.

It would teach New Zealand road rules such as giving way and driving on the left side of the road.

Sessions would be about 45 minutes long and taught by Highlands drivers.

Highlands chief operating officer Josie Spillane said it had hoped to have the programme ready for the beginning of winter, but it had not started yet because the promoter "wants to do it right''.

It was receiving advice from the New  Zealand Transport Agency as to what specifics the sessions should focus on, she said.

"There's no point in teaching them how to avoid sheep if sheep aren't a cause of crashes.''

It now hoped to begin the courses about mid-July, she said.

Highlands was committed to improving road safety across the board and was offering winter driver training, she said.

NZ Transport Agency southern regional director Jim Harland said it supported any constructive ways to improve safety for visiting drivers and everyone who used New Zealand roads and highways.

"The agency has offered to provide Highlands Park with information that may be useful.''

Overseas licence holders had the same four main factors contributing to crashes when they were "at fault'' as New Zealand drivers did, he said.

Losing control and running off the road was the main factor in 35% of cases, failing to give way or stop was 29%, not seeing another party was 19% and inattention or distraction was 17%.

Failing to keep left was a factor in 5% of at fault overseas licence holder crashes.

Highlands was discussing a plan with Avis Budget Group, in which those who took the course could have discounted car rentals.

Avis managing director Kathryn O'Neill did not want to comment further as it was "very early stages''.