WINSTON PETERS: National soft and weak on overseas drivers

New Zealand has a reputation as being a friendly, open welcoming place.

When you add into this mix a government that throws common sense out the window at the sight of money, it can be a recipe for disaster.

We’re seeing it in New Zealand now with the foreign student industry. The government grabs the money the industry generates and ignores its ugly underbelly - corruption and exploitation.

We are seeing it also with foreign visitors who come here and drive on our roads.

Instead of implementing standards and requirements to ensure our roads are kept safe, the government just hands over the keys to these foreign drivers and says, ‘Go for it!’

The result is a soft, slack system which this summer has seen the New Zealand Transport Authority telling the New Zealand public to be mindful of incompetent foreign drivers who are driving erratically and too slowly.

The plain fact is – these people, without competent driving skills, should not be driving on our roads.

Last year in Otago - where many crashes involving overseas drivers occur regularly – police were instructed not to reveal the nationality of drivers in fatal crashes.

You won’t see this hands-off, softly-softly attitude in countries such as the United States, France and Russia where reasonable standards are applied.

Statistics from 2016 reveal that in New Zealand at least 22 people lost their lives in crashes where a foreign visitor was found to be at fault. In 2015 the number was 19 and in 2014 it was 25.

These horrible statistics are more palatable if we knew New Zealand had strong standards when it comes to overseas drivers.
We don’t.

In the next few days New Zealand First will accept a petition from Tauranga woman Judy Richards when she comes to Parliament calling for change.

Last year her 23-year-old son Rhys Middleton died due to the careless driving of a Chinese woman.

The tragic thing is, Rhys Middleton could be alive today, if we had more stringent standards when it comes to overseas drivers.

These standards are needed – now.