Bid to reduce tourist crashes could include road changes

Lowering the number of tourist driving crashes is a wide-ranging goal that could include physically changing roads, altering speed limits and updating New Zealand's ageing rental vehicle fleet.

A Monday meeting in Queenstown focusing on reducing tourist driving crashes and deaths was attended by a wide range of government agencies, the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago district councils, Tourism New Zealand and rental car companies.

NZ Transport Agency chief adviser on safety direction Lisa Rossiter said the meeting was a great start to solving a complex problem.

The Government took a fourfold approach to change, using a system that has worked around the world. The transport agency is charged with implementing that plan, which involves improving the safety of roads and roadsides, vehicles, speeds and road use.

"Visitors are far more likely to make mistakes but those mistakes shouldn't cost lives. Visitors in the case of Queenstown, Wanaka and Central Otago should also include New Zealanders from other areas of the country, because you have a unique roading environment and weather patterns other Kiwis won't be familiar with," Rossiter said.

Possible changes included altering speed limits on high-risk routes used heavily by tourists, such as the Milford Road and State Highway 6, widening centre lines to allow for a greater margin of error, and trying to stimulate market demand for newer, safer rental vehicle fleets. Some were possible within three years, she said.

A governance group expected to spearhead agreed changes is likely to be formed from among participating groups in the next few weeks.