Tourist drivers: hire car manager quits

By David Loughrey

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A former rental car company manager backing a petition to introduce testing for overseas drivers says the worst case he had seen was a driver who signed a contract, got in a car and drove it straight into another car in the company's car park.

Queenstown man Nick Gregory is, as of yesterday, one of more than 27,000 people who signed the petition started by Geraldine boy Sean Roberts, that is quickly attracting support.

Read: Tourist drivers: the truth about crashes

And, he said on his post on the petition site, the responsibility of handing keys to tourists ''who, time after time, end up killing themselves and taking out New Zealanders in the process'' was one reason he left the industry.

Grant Roberts, father of 10-year-old Sean, died in 2012 after a Chinese woman described by police as having ''negligible independent driving experience'' lost control of her vehicle and hit his motorcycle.

The online petition calls on Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee to require overseas drivers to sit a test before driving in New Zealand.

The petition follows rising concerns over the driving behaviour of some overseas drivers, and some recent high-profile road deaths.

Data from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) showed drivers with foreign licences were involved in about 600 crashes a year, of which about 20 annually were fatal.

But Prime Minister John Key indicated recently the Government had no plans to revisit testing of foreign drivers, despite more fatal crashes in the past couple of weeks. They included one involving a Dutch national who has been charged with careless driving causing death after three people died near Rakaia.

Mr Gregory said he stepped away from 10 years of managing car rental companies in May last year.

His main concern in that role was the lack of a system to ascertain whether clients could drive safely.

Another Queenstown resident, photographer and film location scout Daz Caulton, posted on his Facebook site recently he was concerned ''one of our crew is going to be hit'' on the Glenorchy road.

He said he had seen four tourists crossing the centre line on the road.

He stopped one overseas driver, ''got out of my car, pulled his keys out of the ignition, and chucked them in the lake''.

The petition had reached 27,257 signatures by late yesterday.

- Otago Daily Times

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