13 Jan 2016

Thousands take tourist driver training

10:21 am on 13 January 2016

The AA's driver training tool for tourists is proving to be a hit with travellers it is is too early to say whether it is reducing the number of crashes, the organisation says.

Scenic road to Mount Cook National Park.

Photo: 123rf

The motoring group launched an online test in late November to prepare overseas visitors for driving on New Zealand's roads.

It simulates real-life driving situations so that drivers can get a feel for New Zealand's roads, before they get behind the wheel.

General manager of AA Driving School Nigel Clark told Summer Report there were nearly 2000 visits to the site last week.

"I'm quite amazed at the reach, my stats showed last week that over 60 countries around the world were actually using this programme; USA being the largest, followed by UK and Australia, Germany, China and the list goes on."

He said that was quite exceptional given it was so early in the season.

He said a number of rental car companies were supporting the driver training tool, as was Tourism NZ.

Mr Clark said a clearer picture of the tool's effectiveness in reducing crashes involving tourist drivers would emerge in March when crash statistics could be compared with the same period last year.

A series of fatal accidents last year involving tourist drivers brought the matter of road safety to prominence.

However Coroner Gordon Matenga who investigated the deaths of seven overseas nationals in crashes in 2015 said fewer than 6 percent of fatal and serious crashes in the past five years were caused by international visitors.