25 Feb 2015

Another car key seized in South Island

7:45 pm on 25 February 2015

For the second time in six weeks a member of the public has taken car keys from a tourist in the South Island because of fears about unsafe driving.

On Monday a member of the public took the car keys off a tourist in a rental car when they pulled into Franz Josef.

Police spokesperson Barbara Dunne said the driving was recorded on a cellphone and there was enough evidence to issue an infringement notice.

She said the rental company had cancelled the agreement with the tourists in question and reclaimed the car.

On 18 January a member of the public took keys off a driver in the Lindis Pass because of concerns about their driving.

An online petition calling for all tourists to take a competency test before being allowed to drive in New Zealand has so far got more than 35,000 signatures.

In a similar incident in mid-December, Otago woman Christine Wardell was told to take the keys off a dangerous foreign driver in the Lindis Park after ringing *555.

Mrs Wardell said she and her husband had become worried after the driver kept crossing the centre line.

"The lady on *555 said, 'Could you please take the keys from the driver?'

"My husband was quite reluctant to do that but I just stressed to him that that was what the lady was telling us to do.

"The lady on *555 said, 'If the policemen ask anything, you just say that I told you to take the keys'."

The Government said it was looking into fast tracking some planned projects to address concerns about poor driving by tourists.

The Associate Transport Minister, Craig Foss, said while he understood people's concerns, they shouldn't take matters into their own hands.

He said he had asked his staff to look into what more could be done, and if planned and existing programmes could be done sooner, or more effectively

Mr Foss said they might also look at installing more rumble strips and improving signage.

The Tourism Industry Association said members of the public taking it upon themselves to stop tourists driving badly could put people at risk.

The association's advocacy manager Steve Hanrahan said people should contact the police if they have concerns about driving, not take action themselves.

Mr Hanrahan said tourists needed better education about New Zealand's driving conditions.

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