Foreign drivers and the case of the missing data

The dangerous driving of foreign drivers has been under the spotlight recently with a large forum in Queenstown last Friday where concerned citizens and various civic leaders met to find a way to solve the challenge. 

Whilst there is no doubt foreign drivers go the wrong way around a roundabout (or as I saw this morning, completely panic and just freeze in the middle of it), and veer out onto the wrong side of the road, there are also plenty of dangerous driving incidents that are not tourists. 

Excessive speed and daredevil overtaking on the Crown Range happens more often than not. The weekly crimeline report from police shows they are consistently apprehending speeding, drunk drivers which tends to be a local crime. 

So, the Wānaka Sun went on a hunt to find the statistical breakdown of road incidents based on whether they were caused by someone holding a NZ drivers license or a foreign license. Our first email to police received this response; “This would not be data that Police holds. 

The nationality of the driver would not necessarily be recorded with every crash in our systems so it's not something we could get data on. MOT may possibly be able to assist although I'm not confident they would have anything on this. You could also maybe go to Justice re: court records that show the nationality of people charged in dangerous driving / careless driving etc..that might be an OIA but worth pursuing. Sorry we could not be of more help.”

So we went to the Ministry of Justice and received this response: “We’ve just consulted with NZ Police and they have advised that they hold the information you’ve requested. Under section 14 of the OIA, I’m transferring your request to them for response. You will hear from them directly in due course.”

The Wānaka Sun responded; “This is very interesting as I applied to police and they said they didn't have it and that I had to ask you.” 

MOJ replied, “That’s really strange. Information about the total number of people charged with reckless driving would be justice, but police are the ones who can break the information down by the level of detail you want.”

Further down the rabbit hole, the police replied to the Ministry of Justice’s referral by saying, “We have transferred the second portion of your request to the New Zealand Transport Agency as we believe your request is more closely connected to their functions and activities.”

Surprisingly quickly, NZTA replied, “The following part has been partially transferred to Waka Kotahi, ‘Of incidents causing death, how many are foreign and how many are local?’. Your request has been forwarded to the appropriate section of the Transport Agency for response. They will contact you if they require clarification of your request, more time to respond, or if your request has been transferred to another organisation to respond to.”

By now, we had the run around from three agencies but the first part of our question, "How many drivers in the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago districts who have been charged for reckless driving or dangerous driving have been foreign, and how many have been local?” has been completely dropped. We may get data on incidents causing death but that doesn’t paint the whole picture and doesn’t help get a more accurate understanding of driver behaviour in the district. It also paints a disturbing picture of the lack of data management; who is collecting it, which departments it is shared with, and how it is retrieved. 

So watch this space— any luck with obtaining the relevant data will be shared as soon as it is received. If indeed, it exists at all. 


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