International driver program just a ‘small part’ of making roads safer

Another state MP is backing calls for better education programs aimed at international drivers, but says it’s only a “small part” of making the region’s roads safer.

Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay supported a motion to adopt a New Zealand-style safety program for overseas drivers.

“There is concern amongst the community with respect to driver behaviour, particularly that of some of our international visitors to the coastal areas of western Victoria and specifically the Great Ocean Road,” he said.

“There is no doubt that foreign visitors are having difficulty in negotiating some of our roads.

“We have a responsibility to educate drivers on the dangers of our roads.”

But Mr Ramsay said more work was needed to bring south-west roads up to scratch.

“Roads in Western Victoria are in need of urgent repairs,” he said.

Mr Ramsay said it was also important a safety program be audited in six months to assess its effectiveness.

“With millions of visitors to the coastal areas in Western Victoria and the significant increase in international visitors, which bring billions of tourist dollars to the local economy, we want to ensure they are safe on our roads, and that this program will help save lives,” he said.

“There is no doubt that the increased number of visitors from Taiwan and China, which now represent about 9 to 10 per cent of total international visitors, are having difficulty in negotiating some of our road rules in the state of Victoria. 

“There is a need for more focused driver education in relation to their familiarity with our road rules in this state.” 

Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism general manager Liz Price said a road safety campaign released by the state government in December would help international visitors getting behind the wheel.

Ms Price said safety videos in Chinese and English, and working more closely with hire car companies were among the initiatives as part of the campaign.

It follows a call from Member for Western Victoria James Purcell last week that an improved driver education program be introduced for international licence-holders.