Trials of a new Code of Practice aimed at improving the safety of both visiting drivers and New Zealand road users will start in June 2015, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) says.

Development of the Code of Practice for rental vehicle operators follows 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 includes actions such as:

  • increased screening of driver experience at vehicle pick-up
  • more pre-arrival information about New Zealand driving conditions
  • trialling more information-sharing between rental vehicle operators about visitors whose contracts have been cancelled.

The driver assessment process is being trialled by a number of rental vehicle operators over June. The trial will focus on ensuring the proposed assessment questions are fit for purpose, and will be done in four languages (English, Mandarin, French and German).

TIA and the Rental Vehicle Association aim to have the Code of Practice finalised by October, in readiness for the 2015-16 peak season.

“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,” TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts said.

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.