Sunday, May 13, 2012

New Zealand: Three Boston University Students Killed, Five Injured in Single-Vehicle Accident

Three Boston University (BU) students who were studying in New Zealand were killed on Saturday (May 12) while en-route to Taupo, on the North Island, where they had planned to hike Tongariro Crossing, a famous trek rated as one of the most spectacular in New Zealand.

Sixteen students were traveling in two minivans when suddenly one of the vans appeared to drift from the road, but in the process of attempting to correct the vehicle, the driver lost control and the vehicle rolled over. Reportedly, some of the students were thrown from the vehicle, suggesting that they may not have been wearing seat belts.

At least five other BU students were injured in the accident, including one who was in critical condition. Four other sustained minor injuries. Two injured students, both women, one 20 and the other 21, remain hospitalized in stable condition. The other two injured in the crash were released late on Saturday. None of the eight students in the second van were injured.

COMMENT: International and local media have not identified the driver of the van that rolled over. Our only hope is that it was not a BU student, as New Zealand has some of the highest road fatalities in the world, particularly for inexperienced drivers such as young college students.

Unfortunately, despite the high road fatalities in New Zealand, the national government permits any foreigner to drive on the driving permit they were issued back home for up to twelve months.

Having lived and worked in left-hand-drive nations the majority of my adult life, converting to left-hand-drive from right-hand-drive is no easy task, particularly given the condition and challenging terrain found in New Zealand.

Road fatalities in New Zealand road are among the highest in the world on a per capita, basis alongside Cambodia, Malaysia, Lithuania and Slovenia.

Road-fatality figures from 33 countries released by the International Transport Forum (ITF) reveal that New Zealand has the seventh-highest ratio of deaths per billion vehicle kilometers traveled and is the ninth highest in the world in per capita deaths.