A number of people in New Zealand have taken matters into their own hands to combat growing concerns over dangerous driving by tourists. According to reports, there have been five cases of locals forcibly taking the keys of foreign motorists after witnessing driving that concerned them.
These incidents, which have been condemned by the authorities, occurred in the South Island. The South Island is a popular tourist destination in New Zealand because of its rugged and breathtaking scenery. It also where many scenes from the “Lord of the Rings” films were shot.
Prime Minister John Key is amongst the people who expressed displeasure with the key snatching incidents. He said “people taking the law into their own hands is not sensible.” New Zealand Police Assistant Commissioner of Road Policing Dave Cliff, meanwhile, said the confiscations existed in a legal gray area. According to him, there was no explicit statute dealing with the issue. However, it is still not the right thing to do.
He explained that there are exceptional circumstances where taking someone’s keys could be legally justified, like when you’re preventing someone from driving under the influence of alcohol. But in the vast majority of cases, Assistant Commissioner Cliff said such a behaviour is unacceptable.
“That extends to physically assaulting or abusing someone in response to their driving, which is simply not acceptable, and anyone found doing so should expect to face the consequences,” the assistant commissioner said.
According to the data provided by the Ministry of Transport, only 6% of crashes in New Zealand involve foreign drivers. While the national figure may be small, such incidents are quire prevalent in some remote regions of South Island. In Westland District, on the South Island’s rugged West Coast, foreign drivers are reportedly involved in 37% of road crashes resulting in death or injury.
Tony Kokshoorn, mayor of the neighbouring Grey District, said the tourists’ driving behaviour was a major problem in the region. He believes amongst the causes of this problem are the tourists from countries that drive on the right side of the road. New Zealanders drive on the left.
He added that many of the tourists involved in accidents were distracted by the scenery. “There are so many beautiful sights to see that they’re not concentrating on their driving. Once they lose their concentration, they tend to fall into old habits and drive on the right,” Mayor Kokshoorn said.