Firm launching app to screen drivers

A Queenstown car hire company is taking the unprecedented move of pre-screening foreign drivers.

Wai Hire Cars is launching an app this week to test its customers' knowledge of the road rules.

Manager Greg Wensley believed rental firms had a "moral responsibility" for basic screening of customers.

"In some [foreign] countries you can essentially just buy a driver's licence without having to sit tests.

"In these customers' hands, our rental cars can become deadly weapons."

Rental Vehicle Association (RVA) chief executive Barry Kidd said Wai's driver-screening app was the only one in the country he knew of and he applauded the "good idea".

"The overseas driver issue is a complex problem that needs to be addressed in multiple ways," he said

Mr Kidd said some RVA members talk foreign drivers through key road-safety points in their own language and get a written acknowledgement of the briefing.

Most others use a video.

Mr Wensley said if he failed a customer he would email all local rental firms to alert them.

He would also offer his app free to other firms.

NZ Transport Agency figures showed 43 per cent of fatal crashes in Central Otago in 2009-12 involved overseas licence holders.

Police suspended a French visitor's licence on the spot on Monday after he was caught travelling at 93km/h through Hari Hari township.

As a result, he forfeited his rental vehicle and was continuing his holiday using public transport.

On Tuesday, a tourist driver was also escorted by police back to Greymouth and had their vehicle confiscated following an incident near Barrytown.

A marked police car witnessed sustained driving by the tourist across double yellow lines.

Hokitika police apprehended another driver on Tuesday after being handed video evidence of dangerous overtaking on State Highway 6.

Acting Sergeant Paul Watson, of Hokitika, said a resident had filmed the dangerous manoeuvre on their dash cam.

- Additional reporting: Greymouth Star

By Frank Marvin of Mountain Scene

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