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Call to get tough on erring foreign drivers

New Zealand First is calling for tougher sentencing of foreign drivers causing fatal accidents.

“Too often the driver is given a comparatively light sentence and disappears overseas quickly,” says Northland MP and New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“On behalf of the families of Northlanders Kylee Anne Rakich and Virginia Keogh, who were killed by an American driver on State Highway 10, we urge the courts to consider their circumstances as well as those of the driver at sentencing.

“The families have been devastated by the accident which also led to the death of an unborn child. There has been a rush to complete the court hearing and sentencing the driver has added to their trauma.

“The driver has admitted two charges of careless driving causing death, and one of causing injury.

“Often foreign drivers are not familiar with the standard of highway in New Zealand, have no experience on rural roads, drive on the other side of the road in their home country, do not take heed of the long distances and winding roads, and spend too long behind the wheel.

“Yet when a fatal accident occurs the penalties seem light, and are certainly no deterrent to others contemplating driving around New Zealand.

“New Zealand First believes rental car companies should take responsibility to ensure people hiring their vehicles are competent. Our Land Transport (Tourist Driver Rental Vehicle) Amendment Bill is awaiting introduction into Parliament,” says Mr Peters.

Examples of sentences include:

In the death of a five-year-old girl at Moeraki, near Oamaru, the Chinese driver who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and four charges of dangerous driving causing injury received an 18-month prison term and was ordered to pay the family $61,000.

A Korean man who admitted a charge of careless driving causing death was fined $1250. The passenger in his car was killed when he failed to take a bend between Te Anau and Mossburn.

A Dutch driver who ran a stop sign and killed a mother and two girls was ordered to pay reparations to the families. He was charged with three counts of dangerous driving causing death and one of dangerous driving causing injury.

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