Noah Taio, founder of road safety initiative Think About Road Safety (TARS), hopes he can play a pivotal role in reducing the number of accidents and motor vehicle-related deaths on Rarotonga.
His motivation for taking the initiative was brought about by the death of a close relative.
“This initiative came about after losing my dear cousin Teariki Smith in a motorbike accident in 2015.”.
Taio said the one time that Smith chose not to wear his helmet was the day he was involved in a motorbike accident and was killed.
Taio wears Smith’s helmet as a reminder to “treat every day as your last”.
The youngster will also no longer travel anywhere without wearing his helmet, an attitude he hopes will rub off on his peers.
“I’ve noticed more and more that young people just don’t wear helmets.
“It’s a mindset that young people have that they think wearing a helmet isn’t “cool” or they think that a tragic accident “won’t happen to me”.
These are the attitudes that are getting our young people killed and these are the mindsets I want to change.
“Regardless of circumstances surrounding accidents, I feel that we can make choices that are for the better.
“And we need to take responsibility for the choices that we do make.”
Taio hopes to raise awareness amongst his young peers regarding road safety, the importance of wearing a helmet and slowing down on the road.
“TARS is all about encouraging better choices. Young people are quick to think wearing a helmet isn’t cool, but at the end of the day brain damage or death isn’t cool either,” a passionate Taio said. Taio who just recently began the TARS campaign, has gained the support of local businesses including Air Rarotonga, RaroMart, BSP, The Islander Hotel and Ollie’s Surf Gear.
“I’ve got Ewan Smith of Air Rarotonga, The Islander and Raromart going thirds on a 40-foot container full of helmets.
“The first lot of helmets that come off that container will go straight to the employees of Air Rarotonga.
“With Ollies Surf Gear on board, helmets will be individually designed and airbrushed with patterns so they are unique and interesting.
“Looking to the future, TARS will be the sole distributor for affordable and subsidised helmets.
“It is all about the next generation. I hope to change the mindset of the community, of our community, of my community.
“At the end of the day, too many people have died over something as simple as wearing a helmet.
Taio says anyone interested in becoming involved with his campaign, or contributing in any way is welcome to contact him on 57977 or 20607.
“I’m on a mission to help my family: the people of the Cook Islands.”