Ban on renting vehicles to tired travellers would save lives, says safety campaigner

An outspoken road safety campaigner has repeated a call for a ban on renting vehicles to travellers who have just arrived in New Zealand.

The call comes after two young Singaporeans were killed in a two-vehicle smash in Canterbury, just hours after arriving in the country.

Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew Wilson, who edits the car review website, says the Canterbury accident was one in a long string of accidents involving tourists who had recently arrived in the country.

“The majority of accidents involving tourists occur later in the trip, but accidents that occur shortly after tourists arrive in this country may be far more severe.”

The Singaporeans’ rental van crossed the centre line and collided head-on with a pickup truck. The pair died at the scene.

Thursday’s accident follows a string of similar incidents.

In 2014, Hong Kong national Shu Na Lo, 27, killed his mother and seriously injured his sister after falling asleep behind the wheel of a rental car he had hired directly after arriving from a flight from overseas. 

On Christmas day 2015, French tourist Remi Morilleau, 37, died near Whangarei after his rental car crossed the centre line and collided with other vehicles. He had arrived in the country only a few hours before.

Morilleau’s crash happened just north of where a 64-year-old Englishman, who had also arrived in the country on the same day, died after a similar head-on collision on November 4.

Matthew-Wilson, who wants a compulsory 24-hour stand down period before overseas travellers are able to rent vehicles, puts the blame for these accidents squarely on the government, and the organisations that support the government’s position.

“It’s shameful that the government, the Automobile Association and the Rental Vehicle Association continue to oppose a stand-down period before recently arrived travellers are allowed to rent vehicles.”

“It is equally shameful that there is still no effective check on the competence of foreign drivers before they’re allowed to rent cars in this country.”