Tourist loses licence

By Peter de Graaf, Kristin Edge

9 comments
Roadsafe Northland Whangarei co-ordinator Gillian Archer was cautious about implementing tougher rules for foreigners. Photo / John Stone
Roadsafe Northland Whangarei co-ordinator Gillian Archer was cautious about implementing tougher rules for foreigners. Photo / John Stone

A Northland road safety official is warning against knee-jerk proposals that would make it tougher for tourists to drive in New Zealand.

Two fatal crashes over the Queen's Birthday weekend involved tourists.

The crashes, which happened in Auckland and Canterbury, have led to calls for tourists to have to pass tests before driving in New Zealand.

Roadsafe Northland Whangarei co-ordinator Gillian Archer was cautious about implementing tougher rules for foreigners as Northland tourists had traditionally not been at fault in fatal or serious crashes.

"We have to be careful not to have a knee-jerk reaction. There needs to be a lot more research done before what could be considered draconian measures are put on tourists," Mrs Archer said.

"Overall, tourists coming to our region seem to be taking great care."

She said more research needed to be done around identifying black spots for tourists on the roads and action taken which could in the long term be of benefit to local drivers.

New Zealand Transport Authority statistics reveal in Northland between 2008 and 2012 of the 1152 fatal, serious and minor crashes - which involved loss of control and head-on collisions - 93 involved drivers with an overseas licence who were at fault.

Some road officials have called for tourists to sit tests before they are allowed to drive in New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key did not believe laws need to be tightened around tourists driving on New Zealand roads.

"If you look at the accident rate of tourists who come and drive in New Zealand versus New Zealanders themselves, it's pretty consistent. They're about the same accident rate per capita. So I don't think that's a big issue."

Assistant Commissioner of road policing Dave Cliff said that fewer than 2 per cent of fatal crashes nationwide involve foreign drivers. He said there were already a number of initiatives in place to make sure tourists were educated about New Zealand road rules.

Meanwhile, it was revealed this week that an American teenage tourist caught drunk at the wheel by a Northland courier driver has lost her licence for 28 days.

Senior Sergeant Chris McLellan said members of the public called police to report a heavily intoxicated 19-year-old woman driving a motor vehicle in Kerikeri.

The woman reportedly hit another car at the Kerikeri roundabout before she was stopped by Kaeo courier driver Vince Melrose, assisted by a Kerikeri resident on May 22.

A breath test revealed an alcohol level of 1122 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, Mr McLellan said. The legal limit for drivers aged 20 and over is 400mcg but under-20s are subject to a zero limit.

The American tourist appeared before Kaikohe District Court and had her licence suspended for 28 days.

- Northern Advocate

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