Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Zealand: Frenchman, 59, Kills Briton, Injures Others for Driving on Wrong Side of Road

According to http://www.nzherald.co.nz, French tourist Gilles Georges Jego, 59, a retiree, has pleaded guilty to  the death of British citizen Anne Eileen Tomkinson, 60, who was riding tandem on a motorcycle at 1700 hours on February 1, at the base of the Karikari Peninsula.

Jego has also been charged with aggravated careless driving causing injury to two others following a collision.  The rider of the motorcycle was injured as well as Jego's wife, who was sitting in the front seat of the rental car that Jego was driving. 

COMMENT: As I have said for a number of years, foreign drivers unaccustomed to the hazardous roadway risks which exist in New Zealand, particularly in driving on the "left," never seem to quite learn from the what can only be described as reckless, irresponsible driving behavior.

As an American who served in and retired from the US Foreign Service, I have had an opportunity to safely drive in a number of left-hand drive nations for some 20+ years, including Thailand, Cyprus, Japan, Barbados, Jamaica, New Zealand, Pakistan, Malaysia and the UK without as much as a speeding ticket.

In the interest of being transparent, I suspect being left-handed also helped me enormously.

Far too many New Zealanders have been killed or maimed for life as a result of foreign drivers who grossly under-estimate their skills to quickly and easily adapt to driving on the "left."

Having followed accidents caused by foreign drivers in NZ very, very carefully over the years, it is my sense that the government of NZ is not sufficiently tough enough on those who foreigners who permanently injure or kill Kiwis on the country's roadways. 

Consequently, I suggest the following for http://www.nzta.govt.nz:

1. Mandate that the NZTA design and amend their regulations to ensure that all foreign drivers from "right-hand drive" nations complete and be certified in a prescribed NZTA-approved online course that can be completed prior to arrival in NZ;

2. This on-line prescribed course of study should include a one-hour behind-the-wheel certification of  competency in driving in New Zealand;

3. Any foreign driver from a "right-hand drive" nation must fulfill #1 and #2 before being certified to drive in New Zealand;

4. Any foreign driver who has fulfilled #1 and #2 above and who permanently disables and/or kills a New Zealander as a result of an "at-fault" collision, will be incarcerated for a minimum period of  90 days;

5. Defendants that plead "not-guilty," where the evidence suggests otherwise, and are subsequently found "guilty," can be incarcerated for up to 120 days in a penal institution in NZ; and

6. Alternatively, and contingent upon a pre-sentencing report, those foreign defendants deemed to be culpable and without remorse, can also be fined punitive damages up to and including US$50,000. 

It should be emphasized that defendant Gilles Georges Jego was on the wrong side of the road when he killed Ms. Tomlinson and injured two others. 

Although Jego pleaded guilty to all charges on February 11, 2014, he was remanded to reappear in court on March 21. This report will be updated when the defendant appears in court later in March.