Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Zealand: A Word to the Wise, Judges Getting Much Tougher on Careless Foreign Drivers

Kejia Zheng, 20, a Chinese tourist visiting New Zealand, will pay dearly for her driving inexperience.
Zheng was sentenced on December 14 local time in the Alexandra District Court on four charges arising from a crash that killed two motorcyclists in the Lindis Pass on November 26 and injured Laura Kate McIntosh and William Vincent Ridley, all of whom were Kiwis.
Admitting to careless driving, Zheng was ordered to pay $10,000 for emotional harm reparation to the victims and their families and revocation of her driving privileges for two years.
Additionally, Judge Stephen O'Driscoll disqualified her from driving for two years.
Having rented a car upon arrival in New Zealand, Zheng was driving through the Lindis Pass when she drifted onto the gravel on the left hand side of the road and then lost control of the vehicle, when a group of motorcyclists were on the same stretch of road, traveling in the opposite direction. Her car slid sideways, hitting Pederson and pushing him into a steel barrier and then sliding into the path of Roberts.
Mr Ridley braked hard and his motorbike slid across the road. Both Pederson and Roberts were thrown several meters and died at the scene. McIntosh, a passenger on Mr Roberts' motorbike, was also thrown off the bike and received serious injuries. She remained in Dunedin Hospital. Ridley received leg injuries and was treated by St John ambulance staff.
Victim impact reports read in court demonstrated that the $10,000 reparation was only the tip of the iceberg, suggesting that Ms. Zheng got off very easily considering that she potentially faced jail time.

COMMENT: The presiding judge did comment that Ms. Zheng's remorse and willingness to meet with the family of Mr. Roberts may very well have kept from going to prison.
Zheng was a first offender and no amount of reparation or fine would change what had happened or make up for the loss of life. Her insurance would cover the damage to the uninsured motorcycles. 

Regarding the emotional harm reparation, $5,000 is to be paid to Ms. McIntosh, $3,000 to Mr. Pederson's widow and $2,000 to Mr. Ridley.

As I have said far too often in the past, New Zealand roadways are among the most treacherous in the world; inexperienced drivers have no business driving on them unless they're prepared to suffer the consequences.

Sadly, most of the fatal accidents that do occur in the country are caused by foreign drivers, many of whom are not familiar with driving on the left.

Generally speaking, I don't recommend that young drivers (ages 18-28) from right-hand drive countries rent cars. Period.

Another factor is renting a car upon arrival after having crossed more than 10-13 time zones, which can impact on driver alertness and adapting to driving on the left.

As mentioned at the outset, New Zealand judges are severely cracking down on foreign drivers who overestimate their driving ability on the LEFT, not realizing that New Zealand's roadways are largely two-way, which puts driver who have never driven on the left at considerable risk of injury or death, let alone locals they injure or kill in the process.

Of late, the majority of accidents involving foreign drivers have resulted in such motorists being charged as being responsible.