NZTA to examine 'visiting' drivers

New Zealand Transport Agency has launched a project to focus on "visiting drivers", at the request of Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse. 

NZTA figures show the proportion of fatal accidents involving drivers with an overseas licence has increased.

In 1998, 0.3 per cent of fatal crashes nationally involved drivers with an overseas licence, while in 2012 it was 5 per cent and, last year, it was 6.4 per cent.

Foreign drivers are entitled to drive with an international licence, or a country-of-origin licence, if that nation is a signatory to a United Nations convention guaranteeing driving rights.

The NZTA-led project will look at what can be done to improve visiting drivers' awareness of New Zealand driving conditions, ways of encouraging tourists to hire safe rental vehicles and signage and road marking improvements. 

It would cover both overseas tourist drivers, and Kiwis travelling within New Zealand. 

"As part of the project, research has been undertaken to better understand why overseas visiting drivers are experiencing difficulties on New Zealand roads and how safer choices can be encouraged," Woodhouse said.

The initial focus is the lower South Island. A workshop was held in Queenstown in April.

Agencies involved include police, the Rental Vehicle Association and regional councils.

"The next step will be the creation of a governance group, which will include Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden and representatives from the Transport Agency and the New Zealand Police. An action plan and working groups will also be established to further investigate options that will increase road safety," Woodhouse said. 

The Press