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French Tourist On Bail After Fatal Collision With Motorcyclist

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
French Tourist On Bail After Fatal Collision With Motorcyclist

Wellington, Jan 11 NZPA - A French tourist facing charges over a fatal collision with a motorbike in Waikato on Saturday has briefly appeared in court.

Federic Andre Bignon, 40, appeared in Hamilton District Court today on two charges of careless driving causing injury or death.

They related to a head-on collision near Te Kuiti, in the King Country, on Saturday afternoon.

The crash killed Te Kuiti man James Aitken, 38, and seriously injured his wife Jaqueline, who was riding pillion.

Bignon entered no plea and was remanded on bail to re-appear later this month. He had to surrender his passport to the police.

The incident was one of many involving tourists over the holiday period, prompting calls to better educate visitors before they ventured onto New Zealand roads.

American tourist Peter Magrath heads home for Washington DC today with his wife's ashes, after she was hit by a car in Marlborough.

Deborah Howell was hit on January 2 when she stepped on to the road to take a photograph. She was rushed to hospital, but died a short time later.

Mr Magrath said he believed his wife had looked the wrong way before she stepped on to the road because she was not used to cars driving on the left.

Detective Sergeant John Hamilton of Blenheim said police were still investigating the incident and were keeping an open mind as to whether charges would be laid against the car's driver.

On Tuesday last week, German cyclist Mia Susanne Pusch was killed when she was struck by a truck and trailer travelling the same direction north of Bulls, in the Manawatu.

In the South Island, police said they had warned tourists to slow down around spots like Queenstown and Milford Sound, handing out dozens of speeding tickets, including one to a tourist caught driving at 151kph, and many others at more than 140kph.

Waikato road policing manager Inspector Leo Tooman said with the World Rowing Cup in October followed by next year's Rugby World Cup, drumming in the road safety message, particularly keeping to the left, was a major priority.

"We've worked with car rental companies and there are stickers reminding drivers to keep left in most rental vehicles as well as CDs on driving and reminder signs on major tourist routes," Mr Tooman said.

"However, when people go off the main routes and there are no other road users to follow that people automatically revert to what they're used to, particularly in stressful situations."

Sergeant Geoff Sutherland, head of the Southland police highway patrol, said he believed tourists needed more education about New Zealand roads to prevent fatal and serious crashes.

"We don't want them going home in a wooden box," he told The New Zealand Herald.

"We certainly don't want them causing any more harm for any of us on the roads."

Mr Sutherland said one idea was to give all tourists renting vehicles standard driving guidelines.

"These tourists pretty much arrive in the country and within minutes they have got a rental car and they are on their way."

Rental Vehicle Association chief executive Raewyn Bleakley said there was a wide range of material about road safety available in several languages, both in hard copy and electronically.

"Obviously we need to make sure we are doing enough to maximise the awareness of it, but, at the end of the day, it's the individual's responsibility who's coming here and driving in our environment to make sure that they are aware of the road rules and that they abide by them," Ms Bleakley said.

"When we've got evidence of drivers speeding 51km over the speed limit, that is definitely a huge concern to us."


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