Rental car boss takes stand over tourists

Last updated 05:00 06/06/2014

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A rental car company manager has quit because he refused to feel responsible for handing keys to tourists who often ended up crashing.

Nick Gregory, who recently resigned after 10 years managing rental car companies, is one of 25,300 people backing a petition by a Geraldine boy to prevent tourists driving in New Zealand without sitting a test.

"I simply refused to feel responsible for handing over the keys to tourists who, time after time, end up killing themselves and taking out New Zealanders in the process," he said.

"I have written to the transport minister and the president of the New Zealand Rental Car Association, and the reply was simply that it would prove too costly to initiate a programme where tourists must complete and pass a written driver's test prior to them being granted a rental car.

"Week in, week out, lives are taken unnecessarily at the hands of inexperienced foreign drivers. It has to stop."

Ten-year-old Sean Roberts launched his petition, with an initial aim of 5000 signatures.

A triple fatality in Rakaia last weekend has since prompted thousands more to support the cause.

Sean's motivation was the death of his father, Grant Roberts, who was killed by a foreign driver in 2012.

"The tourist driver was given the keys to a rental vehicle one day prior to the fatal accident, having only had one month's driving experience in their homeland and no experience driving on the left-hand side," Gregory said of the woman who killed Sean's father.

He believes all rental car and motor home companies should provide a brief, multi-choice theory test to customers with foreign licences.

The test would improve their knowledge of New Zealand road regulations and help ascertain whether they could drive safely and competently, he said.

"This provides a reliable filter with which to screen potential high-risk drivers."

Gregory also wants white arrows painted on roads at rural intersections and tourist hot spots.

The arrows, designed to show drivers which side of the road they should be on, are already on some parts of state highways, including in the Mackenzie Country, but Gregory wants to see more.

To support the campaign visit:

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- The Timaru Herald

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