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Boozed drivers causing carnage

Wednesday October 10, 2018 Written by Published in Crime

Alcohol has been the prime cause of motor vehicle crashes on Rarotonga over the past six months with court appearances by drink-driving offenders reflecting most of the charges brought by the Police Prosecution unit, says police spokesman Trevor Pitt.


He says “booze” has been the leading cause of accidents in four out of the six months, with excess speed close behind as a significant contributing factor.

“Last month, speed was in fact in front, causing 50 per cent of the reported incidents.

“Alcohol-related crashes represent 32 per cent of the monthly total. And there are of course incidents where a combination of factors is present.

“But in court during September, 59 per cent of the traffic offences were alcohol-related charges. The remainder fell into the categories of careless, dangerous, and disqualified driving offences.

“With tourists also a growing part of the incidents, the police service is being challenged over whether the present road safety measures and strategy are having the desired effect.”

Pitt says the key to changing the situation lies in driver behaviour and the road environment itself.

“This is where the police have an uphill battle - areas where drivers do not listen and heed the lessons, and the road conditions, which do not get any better.

“These two aspects are also interconnected as the uncontrolled growth in vehicles on our roads often tests patience and provokes driver frustration.

Given the level of alcohol-related traffic offences each month and the significance of alcohol as a major cause of motor vehicle crashes, why do some drivers seem intent on trying to get off after they’ve been “busted’’ for being over the limit?

“Even after being disqualified from driving by the court for a year, they continue to do so.” Pitt says more than 80 Rarotonga drivers are now on the disqualified list.

“As these drivers progressively regain their right to drive, they are simply replaced by others, who are added to the list.”

Pitt says there are drivers presently in the judicial system with legal representation, who are hallenging police procedures even after being tested over the legal limit for alcohol. “Lawyers want to point out the technical failures of the police, but not the failure of (their) clients who drink and drive. 

“In addition, a further number of drivers opt to delay the prosecution process under requests to the court for adjournments.

“Perhaps there is good cause to delay proceedings, but driver attitudes often take on the appearance of evasion rather than accountability.”

The role of the police is to enforce the road laws for the safety of the entire community, says Pitt.

“But there are questions that need to be answered by drivers themselves. ‘Obey the law’. Three words so easily dismissed every day, on our roads.”

            - Release/CS

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