Greg Murphy might be a great motor racing legend, and also a road safety advocate, but his recently reported statement that tourists should be tested before being allowed to drive here doesn’t make a lot of sense in the real world.
Yes, there have been a number of high profile crashes involving overseas drivers lately, and yes, our conditions might be difficult for some to master.
But to class all tourists as bad drivers, and require that they take a special test – which no other country in the world requires of drivers who hold driver’s licences, and especially International Driving Permits – is tantamount to committing political suicide as far as our tourism industry is concerned.
And the fact is, the statistics just don’t stack up.
Last year, according to Stats NZ, there were 2.61-million visitor arrivals in New Zealand, and it’s fair to say that many of these visitors drove on the road, although there are no statistics as to just how many would have done so.
Last year 11 people were killed in accidents involving overseas drivers, and the official statistics say 75 percent of these crashes were caused by the overseas drivers. So that means that overseas drivers were said to be to blame for eight of the deaths.
That’s out of a total road deaths toll last year of 254. Or to bring it down to percentages, 3.1 percent of the total road deaths were caused by overseas drivers..
Which means local drivers were responsible for 96.9 percent of the roads death toll.
So, speaking hypothetically, 2.61-million tourists, many of whom have never encountered our road conditions, arrived here last year, and caused eight road deaths. And 4.47-million New Zealand residents, who live here and understand the road conditions, caused 246.
Think about it.