Car hire companies around New Zealand are beginning to roll out a nationwide code of practice designed to weed out potentially dangerous motorists from abroad.
The Tourism Industry Association New Zealand on Monday urged car hire companies around the country to sign up to the code, which establishes a set of standards and practices to inform visitors about driving in New Zealand and assess their preparedness.
It included providing visitors with more pre-arrival information about New Zealand driving conditions, as well as increased screening of driver experience at vehicle pick-up and procedures for managing concerns about their preparedness.
"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," association chief executive Chris Roberts said in a statement.
The voluntary code was developed following agreement among the leaders of about 25 rental vehicle companies, representing the majority of cars and motor-homes hired to international visitors, to actively address concerns over the safety of visiting drivers.
"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 said.
Rental vehicle companies in South Island ski resort of Queenstown had been trialing procedures to share information about visitors whose contracts have been canceled, which had led to at least two rental vehicle companies refusing to hire a vehicle to a driver whose contract had been canceled, Kidd said.
The code also included the DriveSafe website, which provided important messages and useful information for visiting drivers, with key messages translated into Mandarin, German and French.
Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss encouraged rental vehicle operators to sign up and implement the Code before the peak tourism season.
"This initiative builds on a large amount of work already underway, including the multi-agency Visiting Drivers Signature Project, an online training module for overseas travel agents, a Chinese-language safety guide and improvements to road infrastructure," Foss said.
The code follows a series of deadly accidents involving overseas visitors driving on New Zealand roads.