29 Apr 2016

Foreign drivers crash for same reasons as NZers

1:18 pm on 29 April 2016

Foreign drivers account for less than 6 percent of all fatal and injury crashes in New Zealand, according to a new report.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The Overseas Drivers in Crash report for 2010 to 2015, released by the Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss today, also found a third of at-fault overseas licence holders failed to adjust to driving conditions in this country - including driving on the left. That number rose to half for fatal crashes.

The report showed loss of control was the top contributing factor in most fatal and injury crashes involving foreigners, saying "most overseas drivers crash for the same reasons as New Zealand drivers".

"The report shows that very few short-term visitors crash within their first few days in New Zealand, and of those that do crash, fatigue is generally not a contributing factor," Mr Foss said.

"It debunks some common myths, such as visitors, especially those who usually drive on the right-hand side of the road, are crashing because they're tired after long-haul flights - the data simply doesn't support this."

About half of overseas licence holders at-fault in crashes were from countries that drive on the right.

Six countries - Australia, Germany, UK, China, India and the United States - contributed to about 55 percent of overseas drivers involved in crashes.

It said about 78 percent of overseas licence holders were short-term visitors to New Zealand, 13 percent were students and 9 percent were migrants.

Mr Foss also released the official road toll today - 320 men, women and children died on New Zealand roads last year.

The road toll report also showed between 2011 and 2014, New Zealand's vehicle fleet increased by 32 percent, the population grew by 16 percent and travel was up by 15 percent.

"Despite the high number of deaths last year, long-term the road toll is falling, and we all have a responsibility to ensure that continues," Mr Foss said.