Rental vehicle companies around New Zealand are being encouraged to sign up to a new Code of Practice aimed at improving the safety of both visiting drivers and New Zealand road users.
The Code establishes a set of agreed standards and practices for operators to follow when informing visitors about driving in New Zealand and assessing their preparedness.
It includes actions such as:
- providing visitors with more pre-arrival information about New Zealand driving conditions
- increased screening of driver experience at vehicle pick-up and procedures for managing situations where there are concerns about driver preparedness
- providing consistent information to drivers when they are on the road.
“Our aim is to provide a minimum standard of consistency in operators’ approach to providing information to visitors on what’s different about driving in New Zealand,” Tourism Industry Association New Zealand Chief Executive Chris Roberts says.
The voluntary Code was developed following agreement among the leaders of about 25 rental vehicle companies, representing the majority of cars and campervans hired to international visitors, to actively address concerns over the safety of visiting drivers.
“It’s been very pleasing to see the rental vehicle sector’s commitment to addressing the public concerns about visiting driver safety. The indications are that we can expect a bumper tourism season next summer, so we want to do all we can to keep both our visitors and New Zealanders safe on our roads,” Rental Vehicle Association Chief Executive Barry Kidd says.
Rental vehicle companies in Queenstown have also been trialling a process where they share information about visitors whose contracts have been cancelled. This has recently seen at least two rental vehicle companies refusing to hire a vehicle to a driver whose contract had been cancelled, Mr Kidd says.
Mr Roberts says operators are being encouraged to sign up to the Code of Practice by
1 October, ahead of the peak tourism season.
The Code of Practice builds on the extensive work already done to educate visiting drivers on what’s different about driving in New Zealand. These include developing best practice guidelines for rental vehicle operators and accommodation providers, and the DriveSafe website which provides a range of important messages and useful information for visiting drivers, with key messages translated into Mandarin, German and French.
TIA and RVA are involved in the Visiting Drivers Signature Project which is focusing on ways to improve road safety for visiting drivers and New Zealanders. Its scope is broad, with potential actions ranging from providing accurate travel time information, to introducing safer speeds on high risk visitor routes. Led by the New Zealand Transport Agency, the project participants include representatives from the tourism and rental vehicle sectors, police, local government and central government.
The Visiting Drivers Signature Project is a key deliverable under the government’s Safer Journeys Action Plan 2013-15. For more information, go to www.saferjourneys.govt.nz