Tourist's Driving On Our Roads Here To Stay

Your 5 Days Friendly Driver/Guide!

This is a self-serving this blog!  My message is “take a load off the perils of driving and take a tour with 5 Days”!  But really the hidden message is let's take a step back, breath and not overreact when you see bad driving...

In essence, let’s work together and put a stop to road rage especially when visitors to our shores are concerned.  After all, Tourism is arguably our biggest export earner and therefore incredibly important to our economy.

The route of the problem isn't someone forgetting to indicate, for example, it's more in-depth than that.  There's usually more going on in the life of the aggrieved, like pressures at work or relationship problems and when someone forgets to indicate it's the spark that ignites that built up angst. Take Christchurch for example where before the earthquakes road rage was a foreign term only experienced for those that dare visit our largest city, Auckland.  Since the earthquakes and the pressures that have resulted, Christchurch is now rife.

There is no quick fix, but we can start by taking into consideration the stereotypical driving habits of people from their country of origin, not to mention the driving conditions of that country.  In Beijing a city of 20 million people, it seems like organised chaos, where the horn is common and where oncoming cars may slow for one that is in a passing maneuver.  The thing is it seems to work and I didn't see any evidence of rage.  Only me questioning what my Tuk tuk driver was doing going straight through a four lane intersection!  

Let's take a Beijing native out of their environment and place them in a car driving through the back roads of Central Otago.  You can see how 1) they can end up on the wrong side of the road and 2) how they think an oncoming car may slow for them.

From a person who has rented cars both domestically and internationally, I can tell you first hand that it is daunting, especially when it's your inaugural visit!  Ask yourself, how many times have you driven slowly to find an address or indicated at the last moment to turn down a road that you were looking for?  How many of you have had to do a crash course (no pun intended) on driving on the other side of the road?  Having lived in Canada for a period of time I learnt how to do just that and on returning to New Zealand found myself driving on the wrong side of the road here in my homeland!

What are the other solutions?  Ban internationals from driving on our roads?  This isn’t an option as already mentioned tourists are vital to our economy - Like it or not tourists are here to stay and there are plenty of options for them to get around.  This could be by minivan, rental car, coach or campervan.  In terms of rental car and campervan, this means through sheer numbers that there will be more dodgy driving with more drivers on the roads.

To start with perhaps the media could be more responsible.  For example, this article is sensationalising the topic.  We know there is a problem and it’s great to know people are being prosecuted, that’s all that needs to be reported.  Let's think who really reads this article?  Tourists?  Not many.  Locals? Definitely!  All this article has essentially done is inflame rather than educate us on the topic and encouraged debate in a positive manner.

Educating the tourist is the most obvious solution.  There are some excellent initiatives happening like Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand promoting a new video that is played in flight on international flights now.  Making this compulsory viewing would make it more effective.  Recently it was suggested, that tourists have a big “T” to denote a tourist driver as opposed to an “L” for learners.  What about the “keep left” arrow currently in rental cars be a lot bigger and obvious?   Rental car companies doing competency tests is a step too far.  As it is checking in to take your campervan can take well over an hour.  We can get a bit over the top with red tape.  After all, we want to make it easy and a pleasurable experience for our visitors!

So in summary friends, family, tourists and general joe public, there is a bit to consider, but really the most simple answer is to take a load off and let 5 Day’s worry about the driving while we take you around beautiful New Zealand!