Tired tourists are killers, says safety campaigner

Tired drivers must be stopped from renting vehicles, says the car review website dogandlemon.com.

Dogandlemon.com editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an active road safety campaigner, says Friday’s accident, in which a tourist rolled a rented vehicle shortly after arriving in the country, was the latest in a string of accidents that appeared to involve fatigue.

Driving tired is as dangerous as driving drunk.  Drunk people would not be allowed to rent a car. Why should tired drivers be allowed to rent a car?”

“Every expert on the subject says the same thing: travelling from one country to another tires you out, disorients you and makes you a high risk motorist. Even flying from Australia makes you a much higher risk motorist.”

Although many tourist crashes occur at the end of a their stay, a significant number of serious collisions occur within 24 hours of the tourists’ arrival.

Matthew-Wilson gave the example of Hong Kong national Shu Na Lo, 27, who 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 Australia.

Under the tourism industry’s Code of Practice, which is voluntary, tourists are given a list of questions such as: ‘I feel well prepared to drive in NZ Yes/No.’

Matthew-Wilson asks:  “ Does anyone seriously expect tourists to say they’re not safe to be behind the wheel of a rented car?” Of course not. Even assuming that the driver understood the meaning of the questions after a long flight from another country, he clearly thought he was safe to be behind the wheel of a car.”

“We don’t need to ask tourists silly questions. We need to stop them getting behind the wheel of a vehicle within 24 hours of arriving from overseas. I’m quite happy for this 24 hour ban to apply to New Zealanders as well.”

“A tired person doesn’t make good decisions, so it’s up to the people of New Zealand to make the right decision, which is to ban drivers from renting cars until they’ve been here at least one day.”

Matthew-Wilson’s 14,000 word report on tourist accidents: Driven to Distraction, also called for all drivers to pass a computerised awareness test before being allowed to rent a vehicle.