Code introduced to help tourist drivers

  • 10/08/2015

Tourism companies have taken foreign driver safety into their own hands with new standards for teaching and screening tourists who plan to hit New Zealand roads.

The Tourism Industry and Rental Vehicle Associations have asked car hire companies to sign up to an optional new "code of practice" for preparing visitors for driving in the country.

The code includes features such as increasing screening of driver experience, giving drivers more information about roads before they arrive, and providing consistent information to people on the roads.

It has been developed by 25 companies following a spate of accidents involving visiting drivers earlier this year.

It also responds to calls for competency testing before people are allowed to hire cars.

Tourism Industry Association chief Chris Roberts said the industry was trying to use a lighter touch to improve safety.

"Our aim is to provide a minimum standard of consistency in operators' approach to providing information to visitors on what's different about driving in New Zealand," he said.

Rental vehicle companies in Queenstown have also been trialling a process where they share information about visitors whose contracts have been cancelled.

Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss encouraged operators to sign up to the scheme.

He said it would help build on other initiatives, such as a Chinese-language safety guide and improvements to road infrastructure.

In June, Chinese national Jing Cao was jailed for 18 months for causing the death of five-year-old Ruby Marris who was killed when Cao's rental car crossed the centre line near Moeraki in February.