He told CI News in a statement yesterday that many drivers continue to blatantly defy safety messages and the law, and drink-driving is still “a big problem” in the Cook Islands.
And while there has recently been strong public criticism of the Cook Islands Police Service and negative comments about it from some sections of the community, police officers will continue to do the best they can to keep roads safe, Tetava says.
He is appealing to the community to help by encouraging friends and family members not to drive after they have consumed alcohol.
“Unfortunately, we cannot cover all our roads 24/7 and this is where the community can help. Call the police if you see and or know of these drivers, so that we can deploy our policing teams to stop them before they hurt themselves or others.
“Our police teams come across these drivers, time and time again.
“We prosecute those who we have evidence to prosecute and forbid from driving those who we consider are incapable of handling their motor vehicles.
But the message does not seem to get through, as some of these drivers do the same over and over again, even after having been dealt with by the courts
“One only has to read the court reports in CI News to realise the extent of the problem in our country,” Tetava says.
“We continue to deal with many convicted and disqualified drivers, who continue to defy court orders.”
The police commissioner says records show that over 90 people have been disqualified by the courts.
“Most of these drivers were disqualified after being convicted for drink driving offences.
“Over the past month, a total of 16 motor vehicle crashes occurred on our roads in Rarotonga and many of them involved drivers who had been consuming alcohol.
“Sadly, this behaviour and or attitude have led to tragic consequences in the past and will continue to do so in the future if people do not adhere to the message that they should not drink and drive.”
Tetava says many families are hurting and will continue to be so for many years to come due to the loss of their loved ones in crashes where alcohol consumption, speed and carelessness were contributing factors.
“We must do everything we can to stop this. Our police officers are on the road day and night to do the best they can to stop it.
“But the whole community must step up and help. The courts are doing what they can by applying the laws of our country.”
The moment a drunk driver gets onto a motorcycle or vehicle intending to drive, there will be serious consequences, Tetava says.
“It will only be a matter of time before that person hits something or someone on our roads.”