‘We cannot continue to tolerate tourists not complying traffic safety rules’
Problems with tourists who fail to comply with traffic rules while driving rented cars has become increasingly common, frustrating many in the community and even law enforcers, according to Department of Public Safety Commissioner James C. Deleon Guerrero.
In an interview yesterday, Deleon Guerrero said he is aware for quite some time now about some tourists who do not follow traffic safety rules.
“One of the things that we have been doing actually is looking at the educational aspect of this,” he said.
He disclosed that they recently completed an educational video that would be distributed to car rental companies throughout the island. The video has English, Mandarin, Japanese, and Russian versions, he said.
“That should take care of the educational aspect in terms of tourists being reminded to follow the rules of the road and so forth,” he said.
Deleon Guerrero said car rental companies should play the video in their lobbies for their tourist customers.
He also disclosed that they intend to work with the Marianas Visitors Authority so the video can also be aired on the tourism channel.
On the enforcement aspect, the DPS chief hopes that car rental companies seriously make an effort to educate their tourist customers.
“We’re going to start impounding cars if that is what is required for the people to comply,” Deleon Guerrero warned, adding that non-compliance presents a serious highway safety risk to other members of the community.
He claimed he has personally seen some of these violations, where tourists would actually park in the middle of the road, get down and take pictures.
He said some tourists probably think that Saipan is small and has less traffic enforcement going on.
Deleon Guerrero said they don’t want to hurt the car rental companies by impounding their vehicles, because DPS is mindful of how important it is to support the tourism industry.
“But at the same time, we cannot continue to tolerate this because it is really frustrating to a lot of the members of the community,” he said.
Even law enforcement officers are getting tired of pulling over tourists and giving them traffic citations, he said.
Deleon Guerrero is not even sure if tourists actually pay their traffic tickets because they leave the CNMI even before their scheduled court appearance, which is usually three weeks later.
Tourists are allowed to drive in the CNMI using their driver’s license issued in their respective countries for a period of 30 days.
Car rental companies claim that they actually educate their customers about traffic safety rules.
Sally Wang, a staff at Rainbow Car Rental in Garapan, told Saipan Tribune yesterday that tourists who don’t follow traffic safety rules are not their customers.
Showing a brochure about traffic safety rules, Wang said they spend over 30 minutes explaining to their customers the safety rules before allowing them to rent cars.
She said they always screen to make sure that their customers, who are mostly Chinese, have at least three years of driving experience.
Wang disclosed that their company is doing good business because many Chinese tourists continue to visit the islands.