Road accidents over the last few weeks have included a fatal crash. A local male was involved in a crash in Takuvaine late last month. The man was admitted to Rarotonga Hospital with head and back injuries. He was later transferred to New Zealand for further treatment, but later died.
It has been reported that Rarotonga has the second highest road traffic deaths per capita in the world. There were around 64 crashes in the first three months of this year, up 15 on the same period last year and 19 on the year before that.
Cook Islands Police Service spokesman Trevor Pitt says the statistics are “not looking good”.
The number of accidents has steadily increased over the last three years, potentially correlating to the increased number of tourists coming to the Cook Islands. There were over 242 incidents in 2017, 230 the year before that and 212 in 2015.
Between 2007 and 2016, around half of the incidents involving drivers under the age of 25 were alcohol-related. The health ministry released a $1 million Road Safety Strategy in 2016, covering the 2016-2020 period.
Driving violations amounted for 52 of the 99 cases heard before the Cook Islands High Court last month. Thirty-three cases involved drink-driving charges. There were seven cases of driving while disqualified.
Local residents are becoming fed-up with irresponsible drivers, with some turning to social media to vent.
“Who do you think you are that you would put the lives of others at risk?” said one local in a Facebook post, complaining about a driver’s risky manoeuvre.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself!”
The Facebook user said he and his family were returning from a prayer meeting and were driving in Arorangi, when a rental car suddenly overtook them on a corner, with “oncoming traffic to boot!”.
“If you hadn’t pulled off back into your lane in time you would have hurt two innocent young children for the sake of your ego…Let’s keep each other safe and stop this attitude and this behaviour in its tracks, before it’s too late.”
Last week a 14-year-old was involved in a motorcycle crash in Tupapa. Police said whilst making a U-turn, the youngster’s motorcycle collided with another bike, driven by a visitor. Both drivers received minor injuries and were fined for not wearing a helmet.
Yet another motorbike crash was reported last week. Police said two females were travelling towards town when the passenger’s pareu dress became caught in the bike’s chain sprocket, causing a crash. Both women sustained injuries and required hospital attention. Neither was wearing a helmet at the time.