I am not being deliberately provocative by making the claim that tourists driving in New Zealand can be dangerous for them and therefore for NZers too. One just has to take into account two factors and look at the statistics to arrive at the unfortunate conclusion that tourists driving on our roads cause a disproportionate number of accidents and deaths.
Those two factors are that we drive on the ‘other side of the road’ for most of our tourists and that our topography does not make for kind driving. Despite all of this, the actual driving death rate has reached historical lows as the message has been driven home to NZ drivers about ‘speed and alcohol.’
I believe that we owe it to ourselves and our guests to provide far more publicity about ‘driving safely’ in NZ. The simple act of painting more arrows on the roads to indicate our left hand driving laws is a good example of this. It would be so easy to have a moment of ‘return to habit driving’ and then cause unnecessary accidents. Putting many more signs at airports and in ‘rest areas’ in the countryside would also be a good move.
For the ‘well-healed’ tourists, how about offering ‘local drivers,’ much like the idea of ‘porters’ taking tourists gear on the mountains around the world. Yes it would be expensive, but life is worth that. It could of course provide local employment opportunities.
Above all, tourists must be educated about our roads. If all else fails, don’t forget out famous ‘driving dogs. Just go to www.drivngdogs.co.nz and hire a dog to drive you my tourist friends.
Keep coming but keep safe, for your sake and ours in New Zealand.