Car crash - treated like criminals ?

Dec 19th, 2015, 05:44 AM
  #1  
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Car crash - treated like criminals ?

Hi

Got friends of friends who had a car crash in NZ.
What I heard is
- they were driving on the right side of the road
- crash involved another car
- light injuries on both side

Now what I don't get
Friends of friends are not allowed to come back
They must go to court
Seems that NZ is fed up with tourists having road accidents.
The source I talked to is reliable but seems strange to me.
Might be elements missing or is it standard to be treated somehow like criminals for a simple car crash ?

Ps : I am not a troll, I am a frequent poster on Europe and we have a longstanding dream to spend long vacation in Australia/NZ including a car.

Mvg.
pariswat is offline  
Dec 19th, 2015, 09:06 AM
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Pariswat - if they were driving on the right, they were of course on the wrong side of the road and therefore potentially guilty of the criminal offence of careless or even dangerous driving, which carries a potential prison sentence.

in that case, the prosecution may fear that if they leave they won't come back and therefore oppose their being able to go home.

This is all guess work, as we don't really have enough information.

However, if you're feeling that this incident might put you off driving in NZ, don't let it - it's very easy to drive there, with a low speed limit [60 mph, and often 20 or 30 mph in towns and villages] and little traffic outside towns. The main problem is that it's a long way between many of the places you would want to see so you have to be quite patient.
annhig is offline  
Dec 19th, 2015, 12:59 PM
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Off-hand, I'd say the likelihood of elements of the story being more complex than what you're hearing is fairly high.

I'm guessing you mean "correct " side of the road ( left), but if you do mean the right hand side, then that would account for a much more serious demeanor.

I confess to being fairly cavalier about suggesting people rent cars to get around outside of major cities. in doing so, I assume driving competence & research of the local road rules on the part of visitors before they hop behind the wheel. That's not always the case though.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2015, 05:22 PM
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New Zealanders are usually fairly easy-going (except at rugby!)

To take the extreme action to stop travellers leaving the country would indicate there is more detail to this story than we know.

Or I hope so - I'll be there in January but not driving.
margo_oz is offline  
Dec 20th, 2015, 05:13 AM
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I don’t know the answer to the OPs question, but I do have some relevant information to add. I have posted this here before but it is worth a repeat. When in NZ (south island) at this time last year we were told by our local guide that the low volume of traffic on rural roads actually contributes to the accident rate for out-of-country drivers. Because there is little oncoming traffic, those not accustomed to driving on the left do not have frequent cues to remind then to stay on the left and tend to migrate into the wrong lane.

Be careful, stay safe.
eliztravels2 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2015, 10:26 AM
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I lived in New Zealand for a year and follow the news there. Yes, they are sick of foreign drivers (usually from places like the US where we drive on the right) causing accident because they 1) are driving on the wrong side of the road or 2) rent a car after a 24 hour flight and immediately drive putting themselves and others at risk. There was one early morning (no one else on the road) when we were driving out of town, after living and driving there for several months, when my husband turned into the right lane rather than the left. Luckily I was sitting next to him and pointed it out and we quickly got back on track. Engrained habits are hard to break.

This is a country of only 4.5 million people where car accidents with fatalities or major injuries anywhere in the country are front page news throughout the country.

That being said, I suspect that you are missing some details. Don't let it put you off on driving when you do make it to the Antipodes, but be smart, attentive, and follow the speed limit.
AlisaAAM is offline  
Dec 20th, 2015, 12:19 PM
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There was one early morning (no one else on the road) when we were driving out of town, after living and driving there for several months, when my husband turned into the right lane rather than the left. Luckily I was sitting next to him and pointed it out and we quickly got back on track. Engrained habits are hard to break. >>

Alisa, I once went through a whole 2 week long trip to France where I managed to drive on the right side of the road the whole time, and the day after we got home, I found myself driving down the right [ie the wrong!] side of the road again!
annhig is offline  
Dec 20th, 2015, 12:25 PM
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<>

Well, obviously the wrong side, but I assume that's not what you mean.

I've been visiting NZ for 20 years, and I'm from a country that drives on the right. Never had a problem in NZ, we abide by the local laws, but we've seen some abysmal driving in NZ on the part of tourists (particularly Asian)so I suspect your 'friend of a friend' was doing something stupid. Too many tourists turn up without consulting local laws and driving regulations and then wonder why they're not greeted with open arms.

I suspect you're only getting one side of the story.
Melnq8 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2015, 01:50 PM
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I just returned from New Zealand and agree with Melmq8's assertion. I was told by several people that a significant number of visitors from Asia are involved in road accidents. The roads are narrow, winding and the scenery is mesmerizing. Beautiful country, friendly people.
Treesa is offline  
Dec 20th, 2015, 02:57 PM
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In addition, many of those tourists involved in accidents in NZ and in Tasmania & along the Great Ocean Road, are accustomed to driving only in urban areas in their own countries.

Inexperience with the types of roads in these 3 places, combined with driving a people mover full of family members, in some cases for the first time & in a strange country - is the perfect recipe for disaster.

A cursory glance at forums here & on TA will show multiple posts trying to dissuade people from a very small country in their quest to pick up a vehicle from the airport & hare off down the GOR with 7 family from 77 to 7 months. "I'll sleep on the flight"

There was an article somewhere in the last week, where a Chinese tourism representative was advising against recommending self-driving to their nationals coming to Australia & NZ , because many of them simply do not have the necessary driving experience.

Tourists, and specifically Asian tourists, are by no measure the only cause of road accidents - but there are enough tragedies in this sector to raise concern.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2015, 11:27 PM
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In 2008 we spent 2 months driving around the NZ in winter in a camper van. We returned this year to do the same. I noticed a marked deterioration in driving standards mostly down to the influx of Chinese many of whom didn't seem to have a clue how to drive and to make matters worse, some were overloading cars with both people and gear vans to ridiculous extents.

I think part of the problem in NZ is that many of the locals ( I was told by locals) view car insurance as "optional" so many vehicles are actually uninsured. Tourists, on the other-hand, automatically insured for rental cars are probably viewed as guaranteed source of finance/ compensation for repairs/injuries. Maybe that is why the OP's friends were not allowed to leave.
crellston is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2015, 07:21 AM
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Well, thanks for all the answers.
To be honest, it doesn't make me want to go to NZ with a car...

Perso, I've been driving quite a while in the UK and feel I drive ok - however, yes, when you get into your car after a pause and there is nobody on the road, one tends to stick to the right (and correct for me) side of the road -happened to me in Scotland in rural areas.

The friends of the friends are above 40 and are 'normal' drivers (from Europe), so no Asian or US if it can help.

I definitely think I miss some parts of the story but there seems to be a general agreement in your posts that authorities will not come light on a tourist who causes an accident.

I'll try to know more from my side and come back, I appreciate the quality of your answers !

In the meantime, I wish you a Merry Xmas.
pariswat is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2015, 02:07 PM
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and to you Pariswat.

I'll be interested to find out more details of the story, if you ever discover them.

And really don't worry about driving in NZ - remember that in a hire car, the steering wheel is on the "right" side of the car [literally in the case of NZ] so it's not like driving a left-hand drive car in the UK, which I suspect is as confusing as driving a RH drive car in France. I've done quite a lot of that and the worst times are when you set off in the morning or after break but somehow I've avoided disaster so far, as you have.
annhig is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2015, 02:27 PM
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Pariswat - I am sure you will be fine driving in NZ. It's good to have someone else with you for navigating/sharing the driving etc.
Annhig - I am copying your post here in response to someone who wants to rocket around the South Island madly -
"Driving is quite hard going in NZ and I can't imagine that your kids are going to be that happy stuck in the back of the car so much."
This is the truth about driving here. Wish I could put it in bold! Driving here takes concentration and you need to watch the road and other vehicles at all times. The fatal accidents make the news here because they DO NOT grasp the road rules. STOP actually means stop and look for traffic both ways and then drive on. Some basic idea of the road rules is essential for anyone driving here. If you cause a fatal accident then you are charged accordingly.
tasmangirl is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2015, 03:12 PM
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And a solid line means you stay on your side. Some cultures don't understand that because they are accustomed to having a solid barrier to divide traffic direction.
deSchenke is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2015, 07:29 PM
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<<- they were driving on the right side of the road
- crash involved another car
- light injuries on both sides>>

Usually not enough to warrant a trip to court. I certainly have my suspicions about what information is missing.
stormbird is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2015, 09:49 PM
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Agreed deSchenke - one has to watch the vehicles behind, in front and on the other side of the road which can be only a few feet from your car.
Add in a winding narrow road, a one lane bridge, a few trucks or caravans, some idiot trying to overtake - we do have a lot of accidents here in the holiday time.
Anyway I don't mean to put anyone off coming here but to realise that day after day of long concentrated driving is no holiday at all.
tasmangirl is offline  
Dec 24th, 2015, 05:08 AM
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Annhig - I am copying your post here in response to someone who wants to rocket around the South Island madly -
"Driving is quite hard going in NZ and I can't imagine that your kids are going to be that happy stuck in the back of the car so much."
This is the truth about driving here. >>

Tasmangirl - we seriously underestimated the effort that driving in NZ would take, despite the warnings that we had here, particularly from Melnq8. However, we quickly realised that we had bitten off more than we could chew and were able to rearrange our trip so as to reduce the amount of driving that we had set ourselves at the end of it which we were very grateful for when we got there. the free cancellation terms offered on booking.com came in very useful there and I'd recommend using that or another similar site for booking accommodation if someone is setting then self an "aggressive" itinerary, just in case they want to change it like we did.

The ideal plan [IMO] is a mix of 2-3 night stays, depending on what there is to see in the places one overnights at. For example, on the SI we did 3 in Nelson, 2 at Fox, 3 at Wanaka, [instead of the 1 at Wanaka and 2 at Te Anau we'd originally planned] 3 at QT, and 1 at Oamaru before flying out of Christchurch. We could easily have spend extra nights at Nelson and QT, and anther one at Oamaru. This was quite enough driving for us and we live in Cornwall in the UK where we are used to driving along country roads at slow speeds.

<>

absolutely right!
annhig is offline  
Dec 29th, 2015, 12:11 PM
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The rules about driving in New Zealand are pretty simple. Your friends must have broken a major road rule such as alcohol or drugs in the system, talking on a cellphone, not wearing a seat belt ?

Being at fault in an accident, no matter how seemingly minor, if the police are involved then it escalates. It sounds like the full story wasn't revealed to you.

http://www.newzealand.com/au/feature...nt-road-rules/
Blueeyedcod is offline  
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