Once the bill becomes law, there will be extensive efforts to inform motorcyclists about their need to comply with rules that will make helmets compulsory for drivers aged 16 to 25, says Tetava.
“Once the bill is granted, we are going to inform people of the date when it comes into force and will advise people about helmets that comply with safety standards. They must purchase these to comply with the law.”
“You can’t just buy any helmet; it has to meet New Zealand, Australian and European standards.”
Tetava emphasised the need for motorcycle riders to take heed of safety warnings right now, before the new helmet requirements are enforced.
“It’s sad to see that a lot of people still don’t comply with the safety messages issued by the police department while they’re out on the roads.
“We are determined to get on top of this and people need to take ownership of the problem as well. The police can only do so much, and we also have limited resources.”
Tetava warned that harsh penalties were being enforced on motorists caught driving over the breath-alcohol limit and over 90 drunk drivers had been disqualified since last year. Despite the punishment being doled out by the court, the number of motorists caught drink-driving seemed to be increasing every week.
“The whole community approach to drink driving needs to change. Attitudes need to change and people need to take responsibility for their own safety and for the safety of others when they are on the road.
“Be with us on this, it’s not just the police service’s concern, it concerns the whole community. People need to take notice and do something about the problem. If you drink and drive, it’s already too late. It’s an accident waiting to happen and we need to avoid that situation.”
Meanwhile, the Cook Islands National Road Safety Council believes little thought was put into formulating the new Transport Amendment Bill.
Council’s acting president Brent Fisher says lawmakers really need to reconsider road safety legislation and perhaps adopt a “no tolerance” attitude towards drinking and driving.
“It sounds a bit harsh, but look at the number of people who have died. It also affects innocent people,” said Fisher.
“The new helmet bill is not for everybody: It only covers a certain area, a small spectrum of a community.
“You have to start somewhere with such an initiative but we did start somewhere about five years ago when we supported the legislation (for compulsory helmets).
Fisher said the National Road Safety Council had organised
public consultation on the matter and frequent feedback they had received was the need for motorcyclists to wear helmets.
“We went all around the Vakas and talking to the community about what they wanted and they wanted helmets.
“But the minister took it upon himself to water the legislation down making helmets compulsory for people aged 16 to 25 because statistics showed these ages are mostly affected.
“What about the other accidents? Why are we not protecting the rest of the community?
“Why just narrow the legislation down to that small group of people?
“I believe the way it is right now, you can have the situation where a 16 or 17-year-old boy or girl will have to wear a helmet, but whoever is sitting on the back doesn’t have to wear one. “To me, it should be compulsory for everyone riding a motorbike to wear a helmet.”