Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Zealand: Human Carnage Continues on Kiwi Roadways, A Dangerous Place to Drive

Kok Wei Ko, 26, a Singaporean engineer visiting New Zealand with his family has admitted responsibility for the death of an elderly New Zealander who was killed in a head-on collision on State Highway 1 near Clinton on November 13, largely because Ko was passing on a double-yellow line.

Last week, Ko appeared in court to account for five charges arising from the head-on collision near Kuriwao, east of Clinton. Through his defense counsel, Ko admitted causing the death of Neville Westbrooke Squires and injury to Michelle Squires, Yauen Loy, Shu Juan Lee and Bing Yao Lim by driving in a dangerous manner.
Ko was convicted and remanded on bail for pre-sentence and reparation reports and for sentencing on December 5.
Mr. Squires was the front-seat passenger in a Mercedes car being driven south by his daughter, Michelle Squires, about 1310 hours. At the same time, defendant Ko was driving north with three passengers in a rented Toyota Rav 4 in which they had been traveling since arriving in New Zealand nine days earlier.
The Toyota had been following a large truck for a short distance when Ko pulled out to overtake on a section of road marked with no-passing lines.
Michelle Squires was flown to Dunedin Hospital by helicopter. She had a fractured rib that punctured her lung, a fractured lower leg and a sprained wrist.
The three passengers in the Toyota were also injured.
Yauen Loy, the left rear passenger, was airlifted to Dunedin Hospital, where she had surgery for a laceration to the pancreas that was causing internal bleeding.
The right rear passenger, Shu Juan Lee, was also airlifted to Dunedin. She had a dislocated and fractured right hip and leg injuries and has since returned to Singapore for medical treatment.
Bing Yao Lim, the front-seat passenger in the Toyota, was taken to Dunedin Hospital by ambulance. He had fractures to his left foot and his lower lumbar spine.

COMMENT: As I have mentioned in the case of so many accidents occurring in New Zealand of late, most of them involving fatalities, foreigners seriously underestimate the risks involved in renting cars there. 

First of all, driving is on the LEFT, not the right, which immediately puts many foreign drivers at risk of an accident. 

Second, two-way country roadways dominate the landscape. Third, slow-moving lorries, livestock, commercial vehicles further complicate the roads. 

And finally, so many foreign drivers fail to realize just how long it takes to overcome the negative influences of jet-lag, which can take up the better part of two weeks.

All and all, I strongly discourage foreigners from right-hand drive nations renting cars in NZ unless they are experienced in left-hand driving.