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Foreign drivers should sit test: parents

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/02/2017

Keen motorcyclist Rhys Middleton had bought a house and was due to get married last weekend.

But instead on a Sunday last year his mother received the call no parents wants to receive: Rhys had been hit and killed by a foreign driver, inexperienced on New Zealand's roads.

Judy Richards has spent the last year working on a petition calling for foreign drivers staying in the country longer than three months to be made to sit a driving test before being licensed to drive.

She delivered the petition with Rhys' father, Mike Middleton, to NZ First MP Winston Peters on Tuesday with the assurance he would introduce it to Parliament as soon as possible to ensure other families don't have to experience the same pain they did.

"[Rhys] is what drives us. We need to change. It's been said you think 'poor family' but unless you've walked in these shoes it's just gut wrenching every day," she said.

An emotional Mr Middleton broke down, declaring Transport Minister Simon Bridges "needs a kick up the ass".

"It's not going to hurt anybody. It's not going to stop people coming here," he said.

Mr Bridges said he had a huge amount of sympathy for people like Ms Richards and Mr Middleton but ultimately he didn't think changing the rules would save lives.

He said figures showed foreign drivers weren't causing accidents or deaths at levels disproportionate with New Zealand drivers, and the rate of the accidents wasn't going up with tourist numbers.

"The fact that those deaths and serious injuries involving foreign tourists hasn't gone up ... tends to indicate that we shouldn't have knee-jerk reactions to this with policies that haven't been thought through," he said.

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