Driving tests for tourists will never happen

July 2nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse says he will not rule out making tourists sit a driving test before letting them get behind the wheel on New Zealand roads.

But for now, authorities will focus on improving driving in the Queenstown region, where the rate of crashes involving foreign drivers is disproportionately high.

Speaking at the National Party annual conference in Wellington yesterday, Mr Woodhouse said stricter measures for overseas visitors such as making them sit a test before hiring a rental car were being considered.

The minister was responding to a 31,000-signature petition presented to him last week by 10-year-old Sean Roberts, from Geraldine.

Sean proposed driving tests for foreigners after his father was killed by a visiting student motorist when he was riding a motorbike on the Lindis Pass, near Wanaka, in 2012.

Driving tests for tourists will never happen. I know of no country on earth that does this. It would kill a lot of tourism dead. Who would come to a country where there is a risk you might be not allowed to drive?

What I would support is testing New Zealanders more than once in forty years. Just because you passed a test at 16 does not mean at 30 you still remember it all.

I think we should have to resit our practical tests say every ten years.

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55 Responses to “Driving tests for tourists will never happen”

  1. dime (9,666 comments) says:

    “I think we should have to resit our practical tests say every ten years.” – WTF??

    Its bad enough they cancelled my life long license. Now some nazi is gonna judge me every 10 years? if you get your way. screw that.

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  2. fishe (144 comments) says:

    We should have a mandatory defensive driving course as well during the initial licensing process, and maybe every 10 years. Motorists should be exposed to loss of traction etc. and at least in principle know the best techniques for dealing with such situations.

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  3. kowtow (7,949 comments) says:

    Testing more often? Nope.

    When I see so many drivers of all ages ,but particularly the young,looking into their laps clearly texting while driving ,I don’t think licensing is the issue (they are newly licensed)…….

    …..it’s an attitude and enforcement issue.

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  4. dime (9,666 comments) says:

    “We should have a mandatory defensive driving course as well during the initial licensing process, and maybe every 10 years. Motorists should be exposed to loss of traction etc.”

    maybe the all powerful government could build driving sims? that way we could be exposed to loss of traction etc in a safe environment.

    and cyclists, they should be tested too! and not just a short ride. tested when they are exhausted incase they make bad decisions.

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  5. Ed Snack (1,798 comments) says:

    This is missing the elephant in the room; the great majority of drivers are fine (with a lot of odd mistakes and stupid driving, we all do that) but a very small subset causes a huge disproportionate number of accidents. Ally that with our relatively poor roads, narrow and winding with very limited passing opportunities, and you get the results you see.

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  6. Rich Prick (1,633 comments) says:

    “I know of no country on earth that does this.”

    The Cook Islands test visitors and issue a laminated 6 month licence. But I think it is more about revenue than safety.

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  7. Nigel Kearney (918 comments) says:

    There will always be a small number of horrible accidents and the fact these are in the news simply creates a false impression of a problem that isn’t there.

    The road toll is low, especially given our geography. We should just declare victory and move on.

    National knows perfectly well that a driving test for tourists is a horrible idea, but at this stage of the election cycle they would rather pander to hysteria and racism.

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  8. srylands (392 comments) says:

    “The Cook Islands test visitors and issue a laminated 6 month licence. ”

    They really don’t. You just show your NZ licence and get a Cook Islands one.

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  9. queenstfarmer (755 comments) says:

    Two practical things they could do:

    1. Painted arrows at selected places to remind driving on the left (there are a some already, but very few). There have been a number of bad accidents caused by tourists accidentally switching to the right.

    2. Speed bumps at selected intersections, and ‘buzz bumps’ a few meters before, to deter people from blasting through. They have these in some parts of Australia and they work well.

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  10. RRM (9,663 comments) says:

    In every motoring forum I read, there’s a lot of talk about how the current practical driving tests are ridiculously hard to pass, you can fail instantly for things that are not even the letter of the law (e.g. taking slightly long to change lanes) if the tester is not in the mood.

    Whereas as a young fulla I nearly caused a serious accident on the Southern motorway, by not looking far enough ahead in heavy rain conditions, and just about rear-ended a stationary traffic tailback at full speed. What saved me (and the guy I might have killed) was stuff I’d learnt about driving out of an understeer / front-wheel skid playing Gran Turismo 2 on the Playstation.. not anything I’d learned doing the various drivers license tests.

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  11. Rich Prick (1,633 comments) says:

    srylands, you might be right in respect of drivers who hire cars, but they certainly tested us on our hired scooters.

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  12. peterwn (3,213 comments) says:

    srylands – I went to the cop shop on Aitutaki Island and they had run out of forms – and I would be gone by the time forms arrived. I asked him what his cells were like (just in case) and he said all detainees were flown to Rarotonga.

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  13. Fox (202 comments) says:

    Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse says he will not rule out making tourists sit a driving test before letting them get behind the wheel on New Zealand roads.

    Right, because in addition to plummeting dairy prices, a rampant RBNZ Governor chasing inflation bogies that don’t exist, and a soaring dollar slamming the non-dairy export sector, what our economy really needs is yet another reason for potential tourists to divert to Australia instead.

    Well done Mr Woodhouse.

    Now lets hear it for the ‘pro economic growth’ National Party – Hip hip hoorayyy!

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  14. Redbaiter (8,028 comments) says:

    “Its bad enough they cancelled my life long license. Now some nazi is gonna judge me every 10 years? if you get your way. screw that.”

    The National Party again. They are leftists and therefore you just cannot trust them.

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  15. Ross12 (1,276 comments) says:

    Has anyone developed video app for tourists which they can download or the rental car people can give away to them? Just include the basic difference etc. for NZ driving.
    Alternatively ,if it doesn’t already happen the rental car people should insist on tourists sitting down and watching a 5-10 minute video before they leave with the car.
    I certainly don’t agree with a full driving test.

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  16. Colville (2,190 comments) says:

    Renting a car in a foreign country is half of the fun of travel.

    Hired a mini van in Vanuatu, they drive on the wrong side. Lady told me keep the streeing wheel in the middle of the road and dont run over any pigs! :-)

    The villages put logs in the roads as judder bars!

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  17. G152 (231 comments) says:

    Can you imagine just how many ‘driving instructors’ would be required at each port of entry to deal with ( for example) a B767 passenger load ?
    Who is going to pay for this?
    And any-one goes overseas will be treated accordingly… you hire a vehicle you pass our driving exam..

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  18. KiwiGreg (3,221 comments) says:

    @rich prick – if you have a motor cycle licence you dont have to resit, just pay for the licence – so dont throw away your CI bike licence!

    Can you imagine arriving in a country after a long flight and being told you cant pick up your rental car until you’d sat a test; oh and by the way the testing office doesnt open until 9 am on Monday? I’ve rented cars in the UK, Spain, Germany, the US, Canada, Australia and Fiji. No one makes you take a test.

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  19. David Garrett (6,774 comments) says:

    Ross: No harm in requiring them to watch a video…but sadly I dont think it would make a blind bit of difference…most “tourist caused” crashes are head-ons caused by the tourist being on the wrong side of the road…due to fatigue, absent mindedness, or very possibly the “Oh, Herman, look at that beautiful lake/mountain/stand of bush” syndrome…followed immediately by confusion as to what side of the road they are supposed to be on…

    We could of course change our driving side to the right…Sweden did it in the 60′s, and there were remarkably few accidents…might make our cars a bit cheaper too…the same side steering column as almost everyone else in the world…

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  20. KiwiGreg (3,221 comments) says:

    “the same side steering column as almost everyone else in the world…”

    Well except the Japs, Hong Kong, South (India etc) and a bit of SE Asia, Southern Africa and the UK

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  21. KiwiGreg (3,221 comments) says:

    Here we go

    http://www.joeydevilla.com/2008/08/13/countries-where-they-drive-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-road/

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  22. Redbaiter (8,028 comments) says:

    “We could of course change our driving side to the right”

    As long as the change was implemented gradually.

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  23. thedavincimode (6,590 comments) says:

    You mean drive in the middle for a while before moving right over?

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  24. KiwiGreg (3,221 comments) says:

    No TDVM – start with cars with odd numbered number plates or perhaps just dip our toes in by driving on the right on Mondays only.

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  25. RRM (9,663 comments) says:

    We could of course change our driving side to the right……might make eurotrash cars a bit cheaper too…

    Fixed that for you DG.

    The closest car-assembling nation to us is Japan , and Japanese cars are cheaper and better than European or American cars. We are, therefore, already driving on the “right” (as in, correct) side of the road. ;-)

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  26. Fox (202 comments) says:

    Perhaps he meant implementing it in a few townships like Invercargill and Gore first, and then slowly moving upwards.

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  27. David Garrett (6,774 comments) says:

    Very droll Red…you have obviously had the happy pills along with the statins, the blood thinners and the high blood pressure ones this am..

    Yes, believe it or not, after a lengthy public education campaign, Sweden switched from driving on the left – the only country in western europe other than the UK to do so I think – to driving on the right…The change happened at midnight with, I think, an hour when no-one was allowed to drive while they changed all the signs from left to right. Remarkable.

    I dont know what they did about the road markings…cant have redone all them in an hour…

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  28. Alan Wilkinson (1,848 comments) says:

    As others have said the Cook Islands only test people who don’t have an NZ licence. Otherwise you just pay for the CI licence. Most tests are for tourists who want to hire scooters and don’t have a current NZ motorbike licence. They just get a mass drive down the road and back again.

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  29. Fox (202 comments) says:

    If we switched sides, we’d still have exactly the same issues, only instead of Dutch or American tourists causing the accidents, it would be British and Australian ones.

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  30. Chuck Bird (4,771 comments) says:

    “We could of course change our driving side to the right…Sweden did it in the 60′s, and there were remarkably few accidents”

    That would be a good idea if Oz did it first.

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  31. Redbaiter (8,028 comments) says:

    Couldn’t we fix this by just banning something??

    FFS, what’s wrong wirth you people.

    By now you should know, banning something is always the best solution.

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  32. goldnkiwi (1,174 comments) says:

    So how about in flight videos and reading material options? Then it doesn’t take up time on arrival.

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  33. jackinabox (781 comments) says:

    Left hand drive? right hand drive? one more generation and it will be shank’s pony for whoever made it through.

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  34. berend (1,674 comments) says:

    Within a few years we’ll have self-driving cars, and tourists are only allowed those. Problem solved.

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  35. Zapper (965 comments) says:

    While any accidents are bad, particularly the one that killed a mother, daughter and friend in Canterbury, is there any actual evidence that tourists cause more crashes per capita than NZ residents?

    And I don’t mean news stories of another tourist crash, I mean genuine stats that show tourists cause/are involved in significantly more accidents?

    From the story:

    “But for now, road safety authorities will focus on improving driving in the Queenstown region, where the rate of crashes involving foreign drivers is disproportionately high.”

    Can we see the stats behind this statement?

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  36. ross411 (295 comments) says:

    New Zealand drivers are shit. As a NZer, I acknowledge that.

    How often do I have to see people who do not know right of way rules? Either before or after the recent changes. How often do I experience things like approaching a roundabout, see someone indicating to show they are turning off before the roundabout, only to see them continue straight onto it? Too often. As such I think there’s something to be said for more regular testing of NZers.

    If someone loses a family member, and gets some pity signatures, then uses them to push something to make themself feel better.. then that is wrong. That is making us pay a penance, so that they can feel like they did something. We get this with smacking. We get this with alcohol. And now we get this with driving.

    I’m not against better testing, I just want it based on reason, not emotion.

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  37. Dazzaman (1,132 comments) says:

    I think we should have to resit our practical tests say every ten years.

    Idiot idea…..fuck that shit!

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  38. David Garrett (6,774 comments) says:

    Jackass: We will still be using petroleum – but probably not for transport fuel – when my children have grandchildren…and my oldest child is 12. (The stuff is so valuable for other things we shouldn’t be using it as a transport fuel now)

    You simply betray your ignorance by such posts…try googling “shale oil recovery”….we have a huge amount of the stuff here on the East Coast…it will make the US a net oil exporter again in 10 years or less.

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  39. ciaron (1,389 comments) says:

    Why can’t we have a “tourist edition” of the scratch and win that learners get? When the rental company confirms the booking, there is a nice bold you will need to pass a random test before you can take the vehicle on the email, with a link to our road code.

    So tourist turns up and gets the scratch and win with the rest of the forms, get more than two wrong, give ‘em scratchie with alternate questions (like the learner ones) get that wrong, sorry, you can come back and try again tomorrow.

    What do you think?

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  40. labrator (1,849 comments) says:

    In 10 years time robots will be doing most of the driving anyway.

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  41. MT_Tinman (3,050 comments) says:

    I agree DPF, a test for non-NZ drivers is not a goer.

    Having spent a large part of my recent life dodging North Island tradies in vans and 4wd tractors around ChCh I’d suggest tourists are no worse than many (if not most) NZers.

    I would, however, be against a ten year testing regime – we all know that will simply turn into another tax grab.

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  42. rightmakesright (12 comments) says:

    That would be ridiculous, it would mean I would have to sit a driving test each time I come home. Or would Nz passports be exempt? My Nz license has now expired, I’m not going to renew it until I move home – my qld should be fine. Or will they be racist and say you can’t drive on a Chinese license… Seems a bit wrong really.

    And as for a practical test every ten years… No, but a theory one may be good. Eg updated road rules etc, I remember arguing with dad over road rules when I learnt to drive that had obviously changed

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  43. labrator (1,849 comments) says:

    They should replace some fines with re-sitting your driving test.

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  44. jackinabox (781 comments) says:

    Try watching from 1.00 David Garrett or should I call you The Jackal?

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  45. dirtbag (22 comments) says:

    10 yearly re-test? Well fuck that! As Dime said, land transport issued me with a lifetime license which turned out not be a lifetime license! Maybe politicians and public servants could face a ten yearly competency/brain check! Teachers to for that matter

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  46. wreck1080 (3,809 comments) says:

    “I think we should have to resit our practical tests say every ten years”

    Before you know it the govt will change it to every 5 years (re passports) and it will be come revenue gathering.

    This rule may mean kiwis will have to sit drivers tests when they visit foreign countries. Not workable.

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  47. Alan Wilkinson (1,848 comments) says:

    “I think we should have to resit our practical tests say every ten years.”

    What a stupid suggestion. There could possibly be some sense in resitting the road code tests since they keep changing that but practical driving skills do not change.

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  48. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    I think we’d be better to make women (specially those that use the rearview to adjust their hair), Asians (resident or not) and all those darkies that cant drive a car without a fetish hanging from the rearview mirror, sit a driving test every time they get into their cars! :)

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  49. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    We could make it mandatory that they put their fuckin brains in gear before the release the handbrake! :)

    We could also teach the bloody retards not to signal a right when they are actually going fucking straight thru the bloody roundabout!

    I keep losing my voice yelling abuse at the pricks! :)

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  50. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    It’s fucking signal left. Signal right. Then carry on straight through.

    The bastards are so fucking dumb they think they are obeying the bloody rules and get shitty when you abuse them! :)

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  51. CharlieBrown (925 comments) says:

    The government needs to get creative here so not to offend some countries. I reckon they should make it compulsory for tourists to have driving insurance with approved insurers (rental car companies will likely arrange that) before driving a car. Then penalties for tourists causing crashes should fall outside ACC so big sums would be involved when they cause crashes. That way premiums for insurance for drivers with licences from particular countries will reflect the increased chance they crash. Insurance companies could also request that scratchy drivers tests are taken before they get behind the wheel.

    All this could be done without offending our trading partners.

    I trust private actuaries to assess risk over politicians.

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  52. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    Apprentice Private Actuary are you then CB? :)

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  53. jackinabox (781 comments) says:

    “It’s fucking signal left. Signal right. Then carry on straight through.

    The bastards are so fucking dumb they think they are obeying the bloody rules and get shitty when you abuse them!”

    The other day I followed a cop through a roundabout and he didn’t signal at all. I thought of pulling him over and demanding that he give himself a ticket but I didn’t want to get abused or Tasered.

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  54. G152 (231 comments) says:

    “I think we should have to resit our practical tests say every ten years.”

    What a stupid suggestion. There could possibly be some sense in resitting the road code tests since they keep changing that but practical driving skills do not change.

    Pilots are required to renew their licenses and medicals every so often.
    CPL’s at 12 months PPL’s at 2 years for the licence
    Six months and one year for the medicals
    Then you have to do so many takeoffs and landings a year and do a check ride every so often

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  55. drivingopinion (1 comment) says:

    Quite a lot of the rental car companies recommend the tourist theory test we created at http://www.drivingtests.co.nz. I personally spoke to every single car rental company in New Zealand a year ago about this, so it’s not like they’re not taking action. There’s probably not much more that can be done. If you make something compulsory it’ll put a huge overhead on the rental car companies and will destroy self-drive tourism. We have 2.8m visitors per year. There are 70,000 campervan rentals and a lot more car rentals than that per year. It’s a relatively small number of accidents, but they’re just hyped by the media because selling newspapers is hard.

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