Levin man Ken Allan walked out of hospital earlier this week after surviving a horror smash, scratching his head and still wondering what happened.
The 82-year-old was lucky to survive a head-on smash north of Ōtaki on September 25, which closed a major state highway for several hours, and had since learned that the other car was being driven by an overseas tourist.
Allan said he was told a crash investigation had shown the other car, driven by an American woman, had crossed the centre line and into the path of his car, a 2007 Honda Civic, that was written off.
He had no recollection of the crash, which happened shortly before 4.30pm. He said the only thing that saved him was that he keeps himself physically fit. The former champion body builder swam every day and had run five marathons.
"Next thing I'm in an ambulance," he said.
Despite his lengthy two-week stay in hospital stay, he was lucky not to have sustained serious injury as the result of the impact.
His torso was purple and he had soft-tissue damage and scrapes and scratches. Photographs show front of his car crushed to the point of the dash and several air bags activated.
"I'm lucky to be alive," he said.
"Afterwards you doubt yourself, but a policeman rang me and said I was not at fault in any way."
Allan was adamant that overseas drivers were susceptible to mistakes when driving in a foreign country, especially if they were used to driving on the other side of the road.
"It seems incongruous that they are allowed to drive here under such conditions, where we have windy and hilly roads, whereas they come from countries with big flash highways," he said.
Allan said he was well placed to comment on driving matters as he spent many years as an instructor on the Defensive Driving Council.
His history with defensive driving has made him ultra-cautious himself, and he drove always with the lights on, day or night, and always had a clean front windscreen.
"I'm very safety conscious," he said.
The former Canadian moved to New Zealand in 1959 and said he hopped into a car and started driving straight away, and remembered it being hard initially to adjust to driving on the opposite side of the road.
"As long as there were other cars on the road I was fine but of it was only me you would start to doubt yourself," he said.
"It is ingrained in you and it takes quite a bit of time to adjust."
He was advocating a law change or an induction course for any overseas driver before they were allowed on New Zealand roads.
"They could advise people who are coming that this is what is required," he said