Renewed calls for law change after 'stunning' percentage of foreign visitors fail driving test

The results of new research from Otago University is sparking calls for more education of foreign drivers in New Zealand.

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Just seven of the 226 international drivers involved in the study passed the test. Source: 1 NEWS

Just seven of 226 international drivers involved in the study passed a theory test, a low three per cent pass rate.

“We’d expected a fair percentage to fail, but that high percentage was stunning, I think,” Otago University professor Neil Carr says.

Also of concern was that just 15 per cent of respondents said they didn’t feel comfortable on our roads.

“A large percentage were over confident, saying they were very confident in their driving ability, and failing the test. Take your pick as to which one’s more scary,” Mr Carr says.

Timaru man Grant Roberts lost his life in 2012 when an overseas driver veered into the opposite lane, killing both Mr Roberts and friend Dennis Pederson.

Mr Roberts' former partner, Mel Pipson, says her family still struggles to comprehend what happened.

“It’s raw, it’s painful and sometimes it seems like it’s just not fair,” she says.

In 2015, Mr Roberts' 10-year-old son Sean took a petition of nearly 40,000 signatures to Parliament, calling for stricter rules on tourist drivers.

While they were unable to enforce any changes at the time, they feel new research shows there is a need for better education.

“Action is needed, or we are going to lose more people,” Ms Pipson says.

Professor Carr agrees, but says we shouldn’t be so quick to judge, noting that he’d be interested in finding out how many Kiwis with drivers licences would also pass the theory test.