Tourist told NZ's driving rules same as in India

Last updated 05:00 19/02/2014

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An Indian tourist convicted of dangerous driving said he was told New Zealand and India had the same road rules, the Invercargill District Court has been told.

Mayank Aggarwal, 25, of Delhi, India, admitted driving dangerously and operating a vehicle recklessly when he appeared before Judge Raoul Neave in the Invercargill District Court yesterday.

Aggarwal is the third tourist driver to be convicted of a driving offence in Invercargill this week.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Penny Stratford told the court that after passing a tourist bus near Mossburn on Monday, Aggarwal had continued driving in the opposite lane as he rounded a T-intersection without slowing for the stop sign. He then pulled over and stopped on the left side of the highway, allowing the tourist bus to get ahead of him again.

Further up the road, Aggarwal passed a tanker on a solid yellow line while travelling around a blind corner at high speed, Ms Stratford said.

When he caught up with the tourist bus again, Aggarwal tried to overtake it for a second time, pulling out into the opposite lane. A vehicle appeared in the oncoming lane and Aggarwal managed to pull back into the correct lane with less than 50 metres of road between him and the oncoming vehicle.

Police found Aggarwal travelling at 123kmh as he approached the Te Anau township, Ms Stratford said.

Lawyer Katy Barker said Aggarwal had been driving in a way that was common in India, including flashing his lights at the tanker to tell the driver he was about to pass.

He had made inquiries about the New Zealand driving rules before leaving India and was told "oh, it's just like in India".

Aggarwal had also asked about the rules when renting a car in New Zealand and was given a similar message, Ms Barker said.

"Had he known the rules, he would have followed them, but he was unaware."

Judge Neave fined Aggarwal $1000 and disqualified him from driving in New Zealand for 12 months.

Constable Dave Leach, of Lumsden, said Aggarwal's rental vehicle was removed from him.

Aggarwal was the third foreign driver to have their rental car taken off them in the past few days, Mr Leach said.

On Monday, Judge Neave raised concerns about the growing issue of tourists travelling on New Zealand roads without proper awareness of the driving standards.

Provisional NZ Transport Agency figures from October show the percentage of fatal crashes in New Zealand involving drivers with an overseas licence increased from 0.3 per cent in 1998 to 6.4 per cent last year.

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- The Southland Times

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