Tourist vehicle code of practice ‘worse than useless’, says safety campaigner

The tourism industry code of practice will do little to prevent unsafe drivers from renting cars, says the car review website

The code of practice was developed by the Rental Vehicle Association and the Tourism Industry Association as a response to multiple accidents involving tourist drivers. editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an active road safety campaigner, says the code of practice is worse than useless.

“The code of practice includes such questions as: ‘I feel well prepared to drive in NZ Yes/No.’ Does anyone seriously expect tourists to say No?”

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 overseas.

“Would a road safety questionnaire have prevented this accident? 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.”

A New Zealand truck driver would be legally prevented from driving his vehicle after a 28 hour flight, but somehow it's okay if you're an overseas tourist..”

"Thanks to our government, a rental company is still free to hand the car keys to someone who is exhausted, doesn’t know what the lines down the middle of the road are for and can’t remember which side of the road to drive on.”

Matthew-Wilson’s 14,000 word report on tourist accidents: Driven to Distraction, quotes a source with extensive experience in private sector public relations, who had the following to say about the tourism industry’s code of practice:

“The code of practice is the perfect response from a PR point of view: it has no real teeth, but it allows all parties to be seen to be doing something.”

Matthew-Wilson adds: 

"If the situation wasn't so serious, I'd laugh out loud at the tourism industry's silly code of practice. However, because there's been little serious action to prevent tourist accidents, there will inevitably be countless more preventable deaths and injuries in the near future."