That’s the message from Cook Islands police who are asking parents to keep themselves and their children safe over the long weekend, and the two-week term one school holidays which begin on Tuesday.
Cook Islands Police acting inspector Rebecca Hosking-Ellis said police had recently caught a string of underage drivers riding motorbikes around Rarotonga.
“We are catching at least two kids a week,” she said.
“They are usually between the age of 12 and 15, and we can assume they have been asked by their parents to quickly drive down to the shop – but it is illegal and not safe.”
“We don’t want another fatal accident.”
The legal driving age in the Cook Islands is 16, and anyone who knowingly permits an underage person to use their vehicle can be charged, said Hosking-Ellis.
This latest group of underage drivers have all been caught driving motorbikes and not cars, said Hosking-Ellis.
But under the age of 16, children do not have the maturity or capacity to understand the road safety skills needed to operate a motorbike.
“Often when you see them the motorbike is a lot bigger’ than them too, which is so dangerous. They can lose control of the bike easily.
“We don’t want any fatal accidents involving any of our children.”
Hosking-Ellis said road safety continued to be an issue on Cook Islands roads and something police were working hard to combat.
She also asked parents not to drink and drive over Easter.
“It is supposed to be a holy weekend – we need to keep our roads safe.”
With school holidays, often come long family days at the beach, and Hosking-Ellis said parents needed to ensure they knew where their little ones were at all times – especially when playing near the water.
“Parents need to be watching their children’s every move.”
Unfortunately, school holidays usually see a spike in petty crime such as shoplifting, and Hosking-Ellis said the general public should also be alert.