Petition proving popular

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More than 70 people have signed a petition calling for a tourist driving law change since it was made available in the Oamaru Mail office on Monday.

The petition, which was created by 10-year-old Geraldine boy Sean Roberts, calls for a driving law reform in an effort to make New Zealand roads safer.

The Oamaru Mail decided to make the petition available until March 17 following the death of Oamaru 5-year-old Ruby Marris in a two-vehicle collision just over a week ago near Moeraki, following which a 32-year-old Beijing resident was charged with dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing injury.

Since it became available on Monday, the office has been inundated with people from around the region coming in to sign the petition, including Ruby Marris’ father Tristan and sisters Georgia, 9, and Sophie, 7, who were injured along with their mother Kimberley and were only discharged from Dunedin Hospital a few days ago.

Ruby Marris’ funeral, for family and friends only, will take place at St Patrick’s Basilica on Thursday.

Dangerous tourist driving has been brought to public attention following this collision and several others involving tourist drivers recently.

The attention has also resulted in several recent instances when motorists have taken the law into their own hands and confiscated tourists’ keys.

“I would like to reiterate to the public not to take matters into their own hands, but rather take video footage, and contact police using *555 or 111,” Omarama police Constable Nayland Smith said about confiscating keys.

“If the other driver stops, then stop as well if you can and wait for police to arrive,” he said.

Omarama Hot Tubs and Information Centre receptionist Lesley Jackson said dangerous driving incidents involving tourists had increased in the area over the last five months, including two in the last few weeks.

This first incident happened while Mrs Jackson was driving from Oamaru to Omarama near Seven Mile Rd three weeks ago.

A rental car passed her on a rise that had double yellow lines, she said.

It was just luck that there were no cars travelling in the opposite direction, she said.

Her daughter experienced a similar issue driving from Omarama to Otematata two weeks ago with a rental car crossing the centre line.

She called *555 and the person was later pulled over by Omarama police still crossing the centre line and travelling at 149kmh an hour, Mrs Jackson said.

Sean Roberts’ petition will be available at the Oamaru Mail office, 48 Thames St, until March 17.

–¬†Additional reporting NZME

SOME COMMENTS FROM THE PETITION AT THE OAMARU MAIL OFFICE
“Urgent attention needed.”
“I would expect/respect a basic refresher course if to drive in another country.”
“Sensible change.”
“Something needs to change NOW!!!”
“Too many injuries and fatalities.”
“Should have been done a long time ago.”
“Hugely important issues. Our drivers must be kept safe.”
“Too many families suffering.”

By Ruby Harfield

PHOTO: RUBY HARFIELD – Oamaru resident Jenni Coulter decided to sign the petition at the Oamaru Mail office yesterday following the death of Oamaru five-year-old Ruby Marris. She said people should not be able to come straight off a plane and hire rental vehicles in New Zealand.