Tourists low in North Otago crash stats

DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Last updated 15:01 12/06/2014

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While vehicle crashes involving tourists aren't common in and around Oamaru, those from overseas driving on North Otago's roads still need to have their wits about them.

The issue of tourists getting behind the wheel with little knowledge of New Zealand's road rules is once again in the headlines, following four deaths over Queen's Birthday Birthday weekend in crashes involving foreign drivers.

Ella Summerfield and Abigail Hone, both aged 12 and Sally Rumble, 49, Ella's mother, were killed near Rakaia after the vehicle they were travelling in collided with a vehicle driven by Dutch tourist Johannes Appelman.

Appelman has appeared in the Christchurch District Court on charges related to the crash.

That crash came after a vehicle driven by an American man crossed the centre line on State Highway 25 near Whitianga and collided with an oncoming 4WD, killing a passenger in the vehicle.

Oamaru Police Sergeant Blair Wilkinson says crashes involving tourists in the Oamaru area are rare; however, they do occur from time to time in other North Otago areas and often involve only one vehicle.

"Tourists are not over represented in crashes around the Waitaki district. The area where they would be most prevalent would be Omarama in the State Highway 8 and Lindis Pass area, particularly when there's bad weather. Tourists are over represented there, but they are generally single vehicle accidents."

Waitaki road safety co-ordinator Elton Crane says tourists need to be as well prepared as possible if they intend to drive while they're in New Zealand.

"I would be directing them to the AA and the New Zealand Transport Agency website, those are the places that should be recommended to people at airports and so on when they arrive."

Crane delivers booklets containing information on New Zealand's road rules to rental car outlets in Oamaru as part of his role.

He says crashes involving tourists is a "complicated" issue that tends to be simplified at times.

"There's an impression that New Zealand is a very safe place to drive, but like anywhere people from overseas need to be aware of the road and potential weather conditions and so on. Statistically, it's not much of an issue in North Otago but it's on the radar ... I treat all road users the same."

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- The Timaru Herald

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