Foreign Drivers

The Herald reports:

The Government is refusing to introduce driving tests for foreign motorists because it is afraid of losing the “almighty tourist dollar”, a victim of a car crash said today.

Newshub journalist Karen Rutherford said ministers needed to stop “pussy-footing around” and require long-stay tourists to prove their driving ability before getting behind the wheel.

Rutherford was among a group of people who presented a 8600-signature petition to New Zealand First leader Winston Peters outside Parliament today calling for tourists staying longer than three months to sit a full license driving test, or at least an online test.

If the only test was reducing the number of accidents we would have a speed limit of 30 km/hr on open roads. All issues are about benefits and costs.

Foreign drivers who stay over a year do have to get a NZ Drivers Licence. One year is also the time frame in which you are seen as a long-stay not short-stay person.

Is the number of accidents caused by foreign drivers increasing? No. It has been fairly constant at around 6% of all accidents for the last decade. And in that time tourism numbers have increased 30%.

So would requiring tourists who are here more than three months make much of an impact. The data suggests next to nothing.

In 2016 there were 1,817,136 tourists here and only 40,336 stayed for more than three months. That’s 2.2%.

So this measure would impact just 2.2% of tourists in NZ. If tourists cause 6% of all accidents then you might expect a 0.13% reduction in the road toll – and that is only if you make the generous assumption that having them sit a NZ licence test will mean they are guaranteed to have no accidents.

So the proposal, while well intentioned, will achieve basically nothing.

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