Safety fears over tourist drivers on New Zealand roads became so heated this summer that even Prime Minister John Key got involved, urging calm after people started taking car keys from overseas drivers to keep them off the roads. But what do the statistics tell us?
There have been numerous reports of tourists involved in crashes on Kiwi roads this summer. One of the most high-profile crashes involving tourists resulted in the death of 5-year-old Ruby Marris in a crash near Moeraki in February. A Chinese driver is facing dangerous driving charges over the crash. The death of a child is always deeply emotive but what can crash data tell us about the relative dangers of overseas drivers?
The percentage of fatal and serious crashes where overseas drivers were involved or at fault was calculated from data supplied by the NZ Transport Agency for 2006-13.
A comparison between the two sets of data shows that tourists in rental cars make up a small percentage of all the vehicles on New Zealand roads in any month, but overseas drivers are involved in a much larger percentage of fatal and serious crashes.
Across New Zealand, February is the worst month. Tourists in rental cars make up less than 1 per cent of all vehicles on the road on average for February but overseas drivers are at fault or part fault in nearly 7 per cent of crashes in February from 2006 to 2013.