MP calls for review of overseas drivers' licences

Road safety advocate: Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan.

Road safety advocate: Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan.

Licensing arrangements for foreign drivers should be reviewed to ensure they have the experience to drive safely on the Great Ocean Road and other south-west roads, a State MP says. 

Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan made the call after hundreds of people attended a community rally on Sunday at Birregurra near Colac where one man has been killed and 12 others injured in a string of crashes at one intersection since Christmas Eve.

A Chinese national has been charged over a Boxing Day crash at the intersection at which the man was killed. 

Mr Riordan said the government needed to review the licensing system for drivers from some overseas countries to verify whether they knew how to drive.

He said 22 per cent of accidents in recent times in the south-west involved foreign nationals which meant they were a significant risk factor.

That risk was likely to grow with the rising popularity of hire drive tourism by overseas visitors, Mr Riordan said.

“We cannot have that growth if it puts local lives at risk,” he said.

Testing similar to that for P platers could be done at the point of car hire to ensure overseas drivers understood Australian road rules, Mr Riordan said.

He said anecdotal evidence was that some overseas drivers had little experience in driving on the long open roads they encountered in the south-west and that “the eight-hour drive on the Great Ocean Road should not be one of the first drives they should be doing.”

Work also needed to be done with the providers of Global Positioning Systems maps to make sure overseas drivers were provided with good road travel information, Mr Riordan said. 

A petition was launched at the Birregurra rally calling on the state government to upgrade a number of key road intersections that were travelled by many visitors to the Great Ocean Road.

The intersections were the Birregurra Forrest Road and Lorne Colac Road intersection where the recent spate of accidents have occurred, the Tomahawk Creek Road and Princes Highway intersection west of Colac and the Cape Otway Road and Winchelsea Deans Marsh Road intersection.

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