MEDIA RELEASE: National support for tougher tourist licensing

Drive on left in Australia warning road signOverwhelming support for tougher licensing for visitors driving on international licenses shows the problem is a national issue.

Western District MP James Purcell has called on the Government to tighten licensing requirements for tourist travelling on our roads.

"We've had support from all over Australia. This isn't just a problem in Victoria, but nationally. Residents of tourist regions around the country have expressed dismay at international drivers who are not familiar with our road rules," Mr Purcell said.

"We have been contacted by various groups and business operators expressing alarm at situations they have witnessed first hand. One operator told us he had a large group of foreign nationals check in with no understanding of English, let alone ability to read road rules. Before long they drove out in more than a dozen hire cars.

"It's very difficult for Australians to get a driver's license in Australia. All states have intensive testing and driver training requirements. But it's not always this difficult to obtain a drivers license in other countries and we allow them to drive on our roads without questioning their abilities."

Mr Purcell said there had been many suggestions on how we can better educate and license visitors to Australia to ensure better road safety on our major tourist routes.

Suggestions have included providing foreign drivers with "T" plates, offering inflight driver training and testing and putting the onus on rental care companies to ensure international drivers have completed training and testing before they are able to rent a vehicle.

"There are many options, some of which may be unpopular within the car hire industry, but what's important here is the outcome. We need to make our roads safe for everyone. We need to ensure these drivers have at least a basic understanding of our road rules.

"Simply requiring an English translation of their foreign license isn't enough. People are stepping off the plane and into a car with little instruction."

VicRoads is also looking at options to improve safety on the Great Ocean Road, with plans to paint arrows at 200 metre intervals to remind drivers to drive on the left.

Mr Purcell welcomes suggestions and input on how we can solve this problem and invites the public and industry to contact him with their suggestions at http://www.jamespurcell.com.au/community/
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