Driving in Cuba led Bay of Plenty man Brett Wotton to a simple black marker pen solution he thinks could reduce the number of serious accidents on New Zealand roads that involve tourists driving on the wrong side of the road.
The Opotiki orchardist recently returned from a fortnight driving in Cuba where he describes the roads as varied and challenging.
As a reminder to keep right on the roads he shared with large Russian trucks, Chinese buses, 1950s American cars and oxen pulling carts, Wotton used a black Sharpie to draw arrows on the windscreen, effectively creating a ‘‘head-up’’ display reminder for a couple of dollars.
‘‘I’ve driven on the right in Europe quite a few times and it’s not a problem because of the density of traffic on the road,’’ says Wotton.
‘‘But as the volume of traffic diminishes, the greater the likelihood to drift back to the side of the road of your country of origin. This was the very situation I found myself in and I was shocked.
‘‘So I used a Sharpie pen to draw arrows on the windscreen. The arrows are best positioned just below your line of sight. ‘‘They worked perfectly at night as well and can be removed easily with a cloth and a bit of toothpaste.’’
Wotton says his Sharpie solution would work equally well here.
‘‘Reading about some of the recent accidents here, I think one of the problems is that in parts of New Zealand there isn’t a lot of traffic on the road. Tourists stop to take some photos and when they get going they revert to the side of the road they are used to.
‘‘We returned to New Zealand and talked to a number of people who considered it a great idea.
‘‘What I am advocating is New Zealand car rental companies establish the country of origin of individuals hiring vehicles and if they are from countries where they drive on the right side of the road, then arrows are placed on their windscreens.
‘‘This should become an integral part of their rental contract,’’ says Wotton.
‘‘According to our local graphics company, a translucent vinyl can be used that could easily be produced in sticker form and is easy to remove from the wind screen. The concept is simple and cheap and the arrows are consistently in your line of vision.
‘‘If it cost a couple of dollars and saved one life or a serious injury it would be worth it.’’