Don’t get me started on bad drivers around here. How many times have you been driving around a bend to find that some stupid prick is driving on your side of the road at you? I bet the answer is way too many times. It just isn’t acceptable to have this doubt in the back of your mind of whether or not you will have a collision just on your way to town.
Tourists are a prime example of bad driving. Tourists have the most ideal plan to just fly into Queenstown airport, hire a car with their overseas license and just cruise over the hill to visit pretty, little Wanaka. Doesn’t that just sound so simple? Little do these tourists know how hard these roads actually are. The standard of driving and getting a drivers license in many over seas countries vary a lot to how we sit our license over here. As most of you know we have three stages to our license process they are learners, restricted and then the full. The learners process is to ensure that future road users know all of the road rules, the restricted is all about practice driving with restrictions then after 24 months of having these stages you have finally made it to your full. The process of the New Zealanders license is important to ensure we are safe road users. In New Zealand tourists are allowed to come here and drive on their overseas license. Some of these licenses have far to simple processes and the individuals don’t know how to drive cars properly let alone with new road rules and handling hard roads. A couple years ago we had a flatmate who was from Korea, she had her full license in Korea but had NEVER driven a car before! How insane is that. We are allowing people who have never driving a car before to come and hire cars and drive on the roads around here. My flatmate then went on to crashing her car on the Crown Range through a barrier uninjured with large fines, she then left the country, leaving her fines unpaid.
The Crown Range is a pure example of a challenging road to drive. Many tourists that come to New Zealand haven’t driven mountainous roads like these before and they do not know how to handle many things such as sharp corners, speed, weather and road conditions. This has led to far too many crashes and this number is on the rise as the number of tourists visiting these areas increase. I guess it isn’t really their fault that they don’t know how to drive roads like these because unlike us they haven’t been bought up driving them often. If you are anything like me when learning to drive with mum sitting in the passenger seat barking about how I’m taking corners to sharp, you’re going to fast, SLOW DOWN, See how the road is shiny, well it could be black ice so don’t slam on the breaks, blah blah blah I start to zone out after about then. By driving these roads regularly with supervision from our parents when we are learning, it will help us to understand how the roads around here work and make us better drivers.. i’m not saying that this means we are invincible New Zealanders and that we will never cause a crash but I do think that education and experience is key to driving these mountainous passes. I think that the rental car companies have a responsibility to educate tourists on how dangerous and hard these roads actually are to drive, this will help to reduce crashes and hopefully encourage tourists to take public transport.
Locals around here aren’t much better, they are arrogant. New Zealanders have a reputation of thinking that “she’ll be right, surely there wont be a car around this bend that I am overtaking on” they think they know everything and that they are never in the wrong. You get the crazy “Im gonna pass this stupid tourist” type of local and then you get the “I live in this town so I can drive how I want and do what I want” type. A prime example of this is driving to school and finding a park. As you all know at MAC we have a small STUDENT carpark and we park alongside the road up to the top of the hill, when getting to school on time you find yourself having to park a the top of this hill as there are so many students that now drive to school. This becomes even better when arriving late and parking at the end of the long que at the top of the hill and walking down to find that there are massive gaps in the line. This is due to parents dropping their kids off at school and parking either in the STUDENT carpark or in this line, they then proceed to spending 10 minutes saying goodbye and watching little Johnny walking into school. After little johnny has made it to school, they sit their and take their phone calls after all of this they leave. This causes students to find other parks and then leaves a park further down the hill. This isnt even mentioning how the parents around here are absolutly terrible at driving as well. In one instance when I was driving to school a while ago I was minding my own business and driving down the hill outside school watching out for the countless amounts of kids just about running out in front of the car and this one parent decides that he will just pull out right in front of my car, missing me by millimetres. I had to slam on the breaks and slammed my hand to the horn. He didn’t even care that he just about hit me. If he had, he probably would have tried to blame it on me because I am the restricted driver, therefore I am the one in the wrong automatically as. In so many cases I have seen locals that have been stuck behind yet another slow tourist car and they have decided to pass in the most stupid, dangerous place along the crown. This has caused many near misses and one day it wont be a near miss, it will be a head on collision going 100km per hour. That would not be a happy out come. Yes, I know that the tourists should pull over in a safe place and let traffic behind pass them but a lot of the time the locals don’t even give them a chance to pull over. The mentality of the locals are “oh here we go, another stupid tourist”. A fatal crash in the community of Wanaka would be devastating, thats the perk and sometimes the downside of living in a small town, everybody knows everybody.
Every time we are on the roads around here we are putting our lives in the hands of bad drivers, would you trust some tourist with you life?