MARK SAINSBURY: Foreign drivers need to get with the programme


The admission by Peng Wang in the North Shore District Court on Wednesday that he had never read the New Zealand Road Code is both extraordinary and frightening.

Wang was found guilty of careless driving causing injury after he ploughed into our colleague Karen Rutherford as she was horse riding, hugging the edge of the road.

Her injuries were horrific.

And to rub salt in her wounds, Wang stayed in his car and never offered her assistance. When he got out, it was to assess the damage he had done to his own vehicle.

That could be down to shock, but after months of recovery Karen faced another horror - Peng Wang admitted in court he had never read the road code.

Wang wasn't just a recent arrival who had picked a rental at the airport. He had been here for a month and spent time here the year before, and said he had been hoping to pick up some driving tips from his business hosts.


Wang admitted trying to get past them but thought it was illegal to cross the centre line to avoid a crash. It's not, of course. Then he tried to suggest Karen's horse leapt out at him…

So what needs to change? Is it so unreasonable to expect people driving on our roads to have at least a basic understanding of our rules? Should it be compulsory before driving on our roads?

Our politicians seem content to say compulsory testing for foreign drivers would impact on our rights to drive in other countries.

But isn't that an acceptable risk?

In China you have to have a Chinese driver's licence and you need to get 90 percent correct to pass. If they can do it why can't we?

It doesn't matter where you come from - if you are new here, get with the programme.

Karen Rutherford was nearly killed. Her daughter who was with her could have been killed, and had to witness what happened to her mum. They lost a beloved horse and the man responsible never checked on them.

So you can understand why she thinks a whole new regime is worth it.

Mark Sainsbury hosts Morning Talk from 9am-midday on RadioLIVE.