Road safety not on island time

Wednesday September 16, 2015 Written by Published in Health
A mock car wreck used in previous road safety campaigns highlights the very real issue of dangerous driving in the Cook Islands. A mock car wreck used in previous road safety campaigns highlights the very real issue of dangerous driving in the Cook Islands.

Health has responded to a letter in Monday’s paper condemning their consultation period for the new Road Safety Strategy.


Policy manager Valentino Wichman says he wants to remind the public that they are only a call away should anyone need any clarification, or a copy of the document.

On September 3, the Ministry of Health officially announced that the Road Safety Strategy will be open to public consultation until next Wednesday.

The Strategy is available in various shops, banks as well as the Rarotonga Hospital, the Tupapa Health Clinic, Infrastructure Cook Islands, Police headquarters and the Ministry of Education. The document is also available online.

However, a disgruntled member of the public wrote to CI News saying it was hard to properly absorb the document when hard copies could not be picked up and taken home, unless printed from a computer.

The letter-writer said any reading would have to be done on location at the various outlets. “You would certainly want to go over it a few more times to make sure you understood what you read.”

Human nature being what it is, most people would not bother with this, and those who did, probably would not have a look straight away, the letter-writer said.

“There have been too many instances where these kinds of documents are released and the general public is given too short a time frame to adequately digest and discuss the matters presented.”

Wichman says the letter made a valid point but pointed out the Ministry of Health was only a phone call away if anyone needed a copy printed.

So far, he says, the ministry has received a few comments from the public, and they are now planning consultations with each vaka on the island.

They are also awaiting a response from the Ariki and Koutu Nui for their opinion on the strategy.

To ensure they get a collaborative response from all pillars of the community, and all those involved, the ministry is also approaching private businesses.

The strategy comes amidst a sting of road accidents over the past month, some of which were fatal.

The document, titled ‘Keep Me Safe’, is designed to reflect the Cook Islands environment but draws from the United Nations framework for the Decade of Action on Road Safety 2011-2020 and other global road safety initiatives.

It will initially involve Rarotonga with a view to extending consultation with the Pa Enua.

The strategy says the burden of road traffic incidents and crashes in the Cook Islands is unacceptable.

In the absence of a coordinated national road safety plan, it says the Cook Islands will continue to experience comparatively high rates of road traffic crashes, crash-related deaths, injuries and disability.

The Strategy identifies two specific goals which include zero road incidents or crash-related deaths and a 50 per cent reduction in the number of serious injuries by 2020.

It is time-limited to five years, from 2015 to 2020, and focuses on clarifying the legislative framework which underpins all road safety measures and initiating system improvements. It also incorporate planning for a long term Cook Islands Road safety strategy.

The public have until next Wednesday to make any comments on the strategy before the consultation period ends, any adjustments are made, and the document is put forward for endorsement by cabinet. 

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