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No signs, no excuse say police

Tuesday December 11, 2018 Written by Published in Crime

Police officers operating a radar gun outside the police headquarters in Avarua are handing out fines to motorists for speeding, despite the fact there is no road sign indicating a reduced speed limit through the town area.

 

The issue was highlighted last week by a local man, who said there was no sign advising a drop in the speed limit from 50kmh to 30kmh, when motorists approach town from Tupapa.

The man, who asked not to be named, said motorists who had been given instant fines should ask the police for their money back, as the lack of signs made it impossible for motorists, especially visitors, to know that the speed restriction existed.

“There’s just a couple of faded marks on the road which are easily missed,” he said.

“I stopped and spoke with the police and they seem well aware that there is no sign, but they have been issuing instant fines anyway.

“I imagine they might now get something done about the signage.

“However, they should be making some sort of public apology and making arrangements to refund the fines they have collected illegally.”

Cook Islands Police Service spokesman Trevor Pitt said the lack of a speed sign at the CICC end of the road through Avarua raised a valid point. 

“But the court would need to be convinced if a speeding fine was to be challenged,” he said. 

And challenging a police officer on duty on the road was “not advisable”, Pitt added.

“The road markings are faded, agreed. But (they are) legible. Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) has jurisdiction over the signage and markings and I believe requests have been lodged about maintenance previously.” 

Police always cooperated with ICI as much as possible, he added.

All residents, at least, ought to know that the town reduced speed zone is long-established.

Told about another problem with police operating radar guns directly outside the police station - that motorists travelling towards the Punanga Nui often had very bright sun in their eyes making police officers difficult to see, Pitt said the court was unlikely to consider sunstrike a valid excuse for speeding or failing to stop for a police officer. 

“As a driver, you are responsible for driving in accordance with the actual conditions: loose gravel, heavy rain, sunshine etc.  Drive to suit the conditions.

“Law enforcement won’t be adjusted to suit the subject’s failure to wear sunglasses or an appropriate visor. 

“Familiarity with the road code and the tips for safe driving would be a good idea.”

ICI was asked for a response to this story, but had not replied by the week’s end.

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