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Helmet law a ‘no-brainer’ advocate says

Monday January 11, 2016 Written by Published in Local
Helmet advocates Piakura Passfield and her dad Kelvin Passfield showing helmets can be cool. Piakura says people need to stop being caught up in vanity, as making helmets compulsory is a simple fix for a massive problem. 16010835 Helmet advocates Piakura Passfield and her dad Kelvin Passfield showing helmets can be cool. Piakura says people need to stop being caught up in vanity, as making helmets compulsory is a simple fix for a massive problem. 16010835

A young activist is tackling Rarotonga’s road safety issue head-on – calling for motorbike helmets to be compulsory for each and every Cook Island driver.

 

Matavera resident Piakura Passfield, a 22-year-old law and philosophy student, has received a wealth of positive feedback from the community supporting her stance on helmets in the Cook Islands.

“In 2011 the Cook Islands had the highest rate of motorcycle deaths per capita in the world,” Passfield wrote in her letter to CI News on Thursday.

“I cannot stress that statistic enough – our ‘peaceful paradise’ has one of the highest rates of motorcycle deaths in the whole world.

“The majority of these deaths are caused by the head injuries, and many of these deaths could have been avoided. That is a fact.”

Passfield said she was inspired to write the letter because of the negative public perception around wearing helmets.

“Because obviously it’s a good law, for the good of our country, and really the only reason people object is because of their vanity – which isn’t good enough.”

Young people could also do more to encourage wearing helmets, she said.

“But I don’t think the onus should be on the youth. A lot of people who are against it are the older generation, and they should be leading by example.

“It should be a mandatory law for all, because everyone’s safety should be a top priority – it’s such a simple fix for a massive problem.”

Meanwhile, a new road safety committee aimed at curbing the significant number of devastating deaths on our roads is set to be formed.

Before Christmas, a meeting was held between Minister of Health Nandi Glassie, Minister of Internal Affairs Albert Nicholas, representatives from Minister of Deputy Prime Minister Teariki Heather’s Office and relevant stakeholders to discuss the proposed Road Safety Strategy and safety helmets for motorbike users.

“It was an opportune time for all to get an update on the work that has been undertaken by Police, Health, government officials and stakeholders in August this year on improving road safety, the next steps needed and how we politicians can support the proposed changes,” said Nicholas.

The meeting clarified that a comprehensive road safety strategy developed in August this year was ready for consideration by Cabinet.

The strategy outlines a five-pronged approach addressing road safety from a holistic
approach that includes improving the physical safety of
the roads, improved safety
by road users and effective road incident crash response.

The strategy would enable the establishment of a new multi-stakeholder road safety committee with its first priority the issue of compulsory wearing of helmets.

“I am pleased to see that this new committee includes representation from the Office of the Opposition as this may facilitate quicker decision making at the political level rather than waiting for Parliament to sit to discuss this very important matter,” said Nicholas.

“By the time we go to Parliament in the New Year, I hope it will be with a consensus approach through the work of this committee on compulsory wearing of helmets.”

The move comes after MPs recently failed to put forward a motion to reintroduce the helmet issue to parliament.

Officials from the Cook Islands Police Service, the Ministries of Health, Infrastructure and Internal Affairs and representatives from the Road Safety Council, Cook Islands National Youth Council and Teimurimotia Fire Brigade also attended the meeting.

Road Safety Council president Brent Fisher, who attended the meeting, said he hoped politicians would stick to their word and push the law through.

“Making helmets compulsory is a no-brainer.” 

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