Tourist-driver meeting 'positive'

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden says the key focus of a group studying better road safety for tourist drivers is to balance concerns and messages to make informed decisions.

Last week Ms van Uden was one of about 45 people who attended an inter-agency meeting that included representatives from the New Zealand Transport Agency, ACC, the Tourism Industry Association, Tourism New Zealand, rental car companies, the Central Otago District Council and Destination Queenstown.

It was the first step in a three to five-year project designed to reduce the number of tourists involved in serious or fatal crashes on New Zealand roads.

Ms van Uden said she found Wednesday's meeting ''quite positive'' and focused on finding solutions.

''I think we are all watching, with increasing concern, near-misses and accidents.

''I think part of it is about sharing the road, but it's also about people understanding that if you want to stop and look at things, that's really cool, but give the people behind you - the people you're holding up - the chance to get past.

''Over the Crown Range, I'm really patient with people ... until they get to the first layby ... they could pull over and they don't. By the time you get to the fifth layby and they're still going 30kmh, I get a little bit impatient, too.''

Ms van Uden said if all motorists were more courteous, that might help to effect change, and that could be helped by people ''spreading the same messages''.

''[One online resource] says it's fantastic to drive in New Zealand; there are wide open spaces and no-one on the roads. They're creating an expectation of what it's like [to drive here] and it's not true.

''Getting those messages right at the beginning will help.''

She was encouraged by the attendance of representatives from rental car companies, including Jucy and Apex, and the support from TNZ and TIA.

''It's saying while we have raised the flag about issues in Otago and Southland, this is an issue in the whole country.

''I like the idea we're going to look at all of the different options so the learning can go the length of the country.''

Ms van Uden had volunteered to be part of the group which would drive the project, but said there was no timeframe yet for establishing an action plan and appointing working groups.

''You can rest assured that when there are timelines given and agreed to, they will be monitored.''


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