New Zealand launches road-safety campaign for foreign tourists

World Today

The growing number of foreign drivers has prompted the New Zealand government and private organizations to launch a series of high-profile road-safety campaigns.

CCTV America’s John Metherell reports.

Twenty-three people died in 2014 as a result of crashes involving foreign drivers. But New Zealand’s Automobile Association says the death toll must be kept in perspective as only six percent of accidents are caused by foreign drivers.

“Outside a few popular tourist areas, the rate of crashes among tourists is really no different than the rate of crashes among local drivers,” said Barney Irvine, of the country’s Automobile Association.

Nevertheless, Tourism New Zealand has sponsored a road safety video fronted by Chinese celebrity influencer Huang Lei which has had more than 10,000 hits. The number of Chinese taking self-drive holidays has doubled over the past two years, and that’s expected to triple by 2020.

“All international visitors experience New Zealand roads and they’re surprised about a few things. One of them is, we drive on the left hand side and a lot of our visitors are used to driving on the right hand side,” CEO of Tourism New Zealand Kevin Bowler said.

Common problems include tourists not understanding road signs, and stopping suddenly to take photographs, so the Automobile Association has launched an online driving test to prepare visitors for driving here.

“The idea of course is that people go through the program before they come to New Zealand so that they’re well and truly prepared once they get here,” Irvine said

The New Zealand Automobile Association is also distributing an information booklet to Chinese tourists when they apply for New Zealand visas.