A five-year-old lost her life in a head-on collision on Saturday.
The driver of one of the vehicles has been charged with dangerous driving causing death.
He’s a Chinese tourist.
. . . The latest figures, from 2013, show overseas drivers were involved in 11 fatal accidents, 90 causing serious injury and more than 400 that caused minor injuries. In all 11 fatalities, the overseas driver was found to be at fault.
In the four years to 2013, 37 percent of crashes in Westland involved an overseas driver, 25 percent in Southland, 24 percent in Queenstown-Lakes and 17 percent in Central Otago.
Yesterday’s accidents come just days after three American citizens were killed when their car crossed the centre line and collided with a logging truck north of Tokoroa.
Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss told 3 News any fatal or serious accident is a tragedy and the Government, police and NZTA are trying to reduce crashes through what’s called the Visiting Drivers Signature Project.
That includes better signage on tourist routes, directional arrows on the road, the use of rumble strips, guidelines for rental vehicle companies and steering wheel safety tags in rental cars. . .
This will inevitably bring more calls for tourists to have to do a driving test before they can drive here, which the AA does not favour:
. . . AA national manager for policy Simon Douglas told MPs that visiting drivers are not ove-represented at a national level in road accidents.
“AA does not believe that a practical test at the border for visitors is pragmatic or practical. We just don’t believe it will be able to be implemented or make a difference,” he said.
Instead Simon Douglas said the Government should prioritise the roll-out in tourist areas of rubber strips, wire-rope barriers, and arrows reminding drivers to keep left.
If tests could be implemented it would almost certainly result in reciprocal tests for New Zealanders overseas.
It might weed out a few really incompetent tourist drivers but would do nothing to counter the danger of generally competent drivers who revert to their home driving habits after a while.
When we’re in countries where we have to drive on the other side of the road my farmer and I reckon it takes both of us to make sure we don’t get complacent. The few times I’ve driven by myself on the right-hand side of the road I’ve planned the trip meticulously and constantly reminded myself to keep right and look left first.
There’s been an awful start to the road toll this year with 46 deaths from 41 fatal crashes by last Friday compared with 34 from 33 crashes at the same time last year.
Most of those weren’t caused by tourists but of course there are a lot more local drivers than visitors.
Whatever we can do to make tourist drivers safer also needs to apply to all of us.