If you're a foreigner in New Zealand, the key to driving on the left side of the country's narrow, winding roads is... to hold on tightly to your keys. At least that's the message being sent by a new breed of road vigilantes in the country.

Local media have reported incidents of self-appointed foreign motorist watchmen actually snatching tourists keys as they drive through New Zealand's South Island, the setting for the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

According to Bloomberg, a Chinese family was key-jacked in February after a local saw them driving on the wrong side, and they were apparently left stranded on the side of the road, baby and all. The news outlet also reports of a case where a vigilante punched a foreigner in the head and then confiscated his keys.

This key vigilantism didn't happen in a vacuum. According to the International Business Times, there have been some tragic car accidents recently that claimed the lives of three Americans, one Chinese tourist and a Taiwanese tourist, as well as boy from New Zealand.

In a statement, police commissioner Mike Bush said, "While the grief and anger at the recent tragedies on our roads is understandable, there is absolutely no place for vigilante behavior."
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The country's ministry of transport found that only six percent of all crashes in New Zealand are linked to foreign motorists. When it comes to South Island specifically, foreigners are involved in about 25 percent of car accidents, according to CNN.

So how to fix this? Bloomberg cites Associate Transport minister Craig Foss as saying New Zealand is coming up with plans to improve road safety- like posting "keep left" and "no-passing" signs on South Island's roads.


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