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A group of Kiwis is throwing their support behind a campaign calling for tourists to drive with "T-plates" on their rental cars.

The founder of the "T-Plates for Tourists" movement said tourists should have to pass a test before they can drive on New Zealand's challenging, distracting and often unforgiving terrain.

"People who come to this country are given the right to drive despite many of them not knowing our driving rules or regulations - hence the number of crashes that occur on our roads," the man, known only as Josh, told MediaWorks.

"I think there should be a test for tourists to sit like our learners test that is compulsory for anyone who wants to drive in this country.

"Following passing this test they could receive a T-plate which would allow other drivers to know the dangers."

According to the latest data from the New Zealand Transport Agency, foreign drivers contribute to about 6 per cent of all crashes resulting in injury or death - even though tourists are estimated to make up just 1 per cent of all road traffic in the country.

The problem is worse in popular travel destinations on the South Island, where overseas drivers make up a quarter or more of all road crashes.

The top two causes of crashes are drivers losing control or drivers not being familiar with New Zealand's road rules and conditions.

And if you think the blame lies mostly with tourists from countries that drive on the right side of the road, you'd be wrong. Australian and British tourists are among the top three worst offenders.

So the proposal for T-plates, which will alert local drivers to the foreigner in their midst, has been gaining support across the country.

Last year, the country's rental vehicle and tourism groups developed a code of practice that would better screen tourists who wanted to drive a rented vehicle in New Zealand, including asking them if they were familiar with local road rules before getting behind the wheel.

Source: NZHerald


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