Project to improve driving by tourists

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 08:16 29/05/2014
Sean Roberts
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ
ON A MISSION: Sean Roberts, 9, wants to know why tourists are still able to drive in NZ, despite a concerning number of crashes caused by people holding international licences.

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A project to improve tourists who drive in New Zealand is under way.

Associate Minister of Transport Michael Woodhouse is leading the project, which focuses on visiting drivers, particularly those in the lower South Island.

"This project will look at the wider issue of crashes involving drivers visiting from other areas in New Zealand, as well as overseas drivers. 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," he said.

The project will look at what can be done to improve visiting drivers' awareness of New Zealand driving conditions. It will also focus on ways of encouraging tourists to hire the safest rental vehicle they can afford, and promoting safe and realistic route choices.

Awareness of the time it takes to drive between various destinations will also be a key aspect, along with improvement to signs and road markings, he said.

A workshop was hosted in Queenstown at the end of last month as part of the project. It was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Transport, NZ Transport Agency, Police, ACC, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Central Otago District Council, Otago Regional Council, Southland District Council, Environment Southland, AA, Tourism Industry Association, Tourism New Zealand and the Rental Vehicle Association.

Geraldine boy Sean Roberts, 10, launched a petition after a foreign student drove across the centre line in the Lindis Pass, hitting two motorcycles. Sean's father, Grant Roberts and his friend Dennis Pederson were killed in the 2012 crash.

Sean's petition at change.org has surged in the past 48 hours after featuring on TVNZ's Seven Sharp on Tuesday night and last night.

Signatures shot up from about 7500 on Tuesday night to 11,500 by yesterday morning and hit 14,500 this morning.

"I reckon another 2000 and I'll be satisfied," Sean said.

A segment of the show also saw a reporter being driven with incompetent tourist drivers. The drivers failed many aspects of the road code.

"He was very, very brave getting in the car with them. I'm glad he's all right," Sean said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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