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Time to test foreigners before they drive, says campaigner

Time to test foreigners before they drive, says safety campaigner

The government must require all drivers to pass a simple, computer-based test that simulates New Zealand driving conditions, before buying or renting vehicles in this country, says the car review website dogandlemon.com.

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says many foreign nationals lack the skills to drive safely on New Zealand roads, yet the government does nothing to stop them from using vehicles in this country.

"While the national figure of accidents involving foreign drivers is quite low, I’m not sure that’s much consolation to the families of the dead victims.”

Matthew-Wilson says drivers from Asia and the Indian subcontinent often have minimal or no real driving experience.

In February, Rhys Middleton, 23, died when the motorbike he was driving along State Highway 5, in Eskdale, north of Napier, collided with a vehicle driven by foreign national Jieling Xiao.

Xiao pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death, but, Matthew-Wilson says the government must share the responsibility.

“Prosecuting foreign drivers after they’ve killed someone doesn’t help the victims. The time to act is before these drivers get behind the wheel of a car.”

“It’s totally unacceptable that the government demands high standards of driving from New Zealand drivers, but accepts appallingly low standards of driving from tourists."

“Anyone with an international licence can drive for up to a year in this country. There is also clear evidence that many people from India and China are driving using fake licences.”

The Indian government estimates that 30% of Indian drivers’ licences are fakes.

“There is also currently a global epidemic of fake licences originating from China, but even the official licences may not be what they seem.”

A Chinese source told dogandlemon.com that bribery is common:

“Drivers give bribery money to the police; the police will issue them licences under the counter. That's illegal, of course, but not many corrupt guys are caught.”


Matthew-Wilson says the government must act to prevent further bloodshed.

“The government constantly offers the excuse that testing foreign drivers would breach an international treaty. Fine. Let’s test everyone, including locals, when they first rent, buy or lease a car. A sixty second computerised test will not cause great hardship, but may save countless lives.”

ends

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