Issue of testing overseas drivers reignited

Samantha and Jesse Shortland. Photo: Supplied
Samantha and Jesse Shortland. Photo: Supplied
Using technology may be a solution for testing overseas drivers’ skills when renting vehicles.

A coroner’s report released earlier this week relating to a 2017 triple fatal Southland crash involving a tourist reignited the issue of whether more stringent testing was needed.

Coroner David Robinson criticised the current testing form and encouraged rental vehicle companies to adopt a qualitative assessment.

He found German tourist Marina Liebl’s vehicle crossed the centre line, resulting in the 2017 crash.

Bryar Hartshorn, mother of one of the crash victims, Samantha Shortland, wanted to see stricter testing or better safety measures in cars, such as lane departure warning systems.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said it was unlikely a more thorough interrogation of the driver by the rental company would have changed the outcome of the crash, and she would have still been given the car given her driving experience.

While new technology aids were "constantly looked at" there was no single solution, he said.

"It has to be a combination of road improvements, upgrades to the vehicle fleet and better driving practices for all road users."

Rental Vehicle Association (RVA) chief executive Pim Borren said it was an "urban myth" overseas drivers caused more fatalities than New Zealanders, but the RVA was open to new technology.

The only legal obligation for renting out a vehicle was to see a valid overseas driver’s licence, he said.

Beyond that, testing driving capability was challenging because fatal accidents tended to happen on the open road.

However, this could potentially be overcome by technologies such as in-flight virtual assessment, and safety features could be introduced such as the lane departure warning systems, autonomous emergency breaking and speeding alert systems, Mr Borren said.


If being allowed to rent a car in a foreign country depended on driver ability there would be few kiwis allowed to drive abroad.

Actually after spending time in the USA and doing a lot of driving I would sooner drive there than in either NZ or AUS. They are more courteous and better drivers generally and know when not to use the fast lane and let you past .
Of course the fact that they may be armed causes a bit more courtesy. LOL




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