You May Have to Take a Test Before Renting a Car in New Zealand
So stop driving on the wrong side of the road, mate.
Travelers planning a road trip in New Zealand may soon have to prove their preparedness under a new Code of Practice (sort of like a voluntary or suggested regulation) that has been newly finalized, according to a statement from associate transport minister Craig Foss. It’s all part of a government-led plan to improve road safety in Zealand, where, as the New Zealand Herald reported earlier this year, tensions have been rising between locals and accident-prone tourist drivers—particularly those unaccustomed to driving on the left side of the road.
The Tourism Industry Association (TIA) of New Zealand explained today in a news release that the code establishes voluntary screening and educational standards for rental car companies to follow when renting to foreign drivers. As part of the code, these companies will not only provide foreign drivers with more information about driving in New Zealand, but they will also question would-be drivers about their driving experience and their knowledge of the country’s road laws.
According to the New Zealand Herald, rental car companies that sign onto the Code of Practice will be asking foreign drivers to respond yes or no to statements such as, “I am familiar with New Zealand’s road rules,” “I have driven regularly in my home country in the past year,” and “This will be my first time driving on the lefthand side of the road.”
The coalition that developed the Code of Practice—a group that includes the TIA in addition to the country’s major rental car companies and the New Zealand Transport Agency—began a trial run in June. As stuff.co.nz reported before the trial began, the driver assessment questions were provided in English, Mandarin, French, and German. The TIA notes in its press release that rental companies in Queenstown have also tested an information-sharing process to alert other agencies about problems with foreign drivers, which has resulted in “at least two rental vehicle companies refusing to hire a vehicle to a driver whose contract had been cancelled.”
Though the Code of Practice is voluntary for rental companies, the coalition that created it is urging these companies to sign on before October 1, when peak tourism season begins. So, if you’re headed to New Zealand this year, perhaps it’s time to brush up on your driving skills.