‘We’re elated – compulsory helmets will save lives’

Friday January 31, 2020 Written by Published in Local
Police run a morning checkpoint across from the Empire Cinema in Avarua. Police say it will be straightforward to enforce new laws requiring the wearing of helmets. 19050726 Police run a morning checkpoint across from the Empire Cinema in Avarua. Police say it will be straightforward to enforce new laws requiring the wearing of helmets. 19050726

Police say it will be straightforward to enforce new laws requiring the wearing of helmets and cracking down on drink-driving – but they are calling for the community to get behind them in making the roads safer. 

Cook Islands Helmets Save Lives community group was born out of a determination to talk about changes to the law regarding compulsory use of helmets for all road users, following the death of 16-year-old Vetina Nicholas in 2015.

An initial meeting at LBV in Muri, attracted a small number of passionate community members who vowed to keep campaigning under the slogan “enough was enough” and the hashtag #helmetssavelives.

Since then, the Prime Minister says at least 24 more people have died on Rarotonga roads – and the helmets group has grown to more than 1000 members.

News that the Cook Islands Government is taking a strong stance on revising current road safety legislation and making helmets compulsory for all road users has been welcomed and applauded by members of the group.

Current legislation makes it compulsory for helmets to be worn by people aged between 16-25 years.

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Group spokesperson Debi Futter-Puati said to finally have the Prime Minister Henry Puna and the Government stand up and make this call was a true mark of leadership.

“We are absolutely elated with the announcement that helmets will be compulsory for all road users. We salute their leadership and the strong stance they have taken on these issues,” she said.

“This decision may not prevent accidents from occurring but it is certainly a step in the right direction and is going to save lives here in the Cook Islands,” she said.

Cook Islands Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said implementing the new road safety laws –especially the ban of mobile phones and earphones, the reduced breath alcohol limit from 400mcg to 250mcg, and compulsory wearing of helmets – would be straightforward.

Though there could be more debate about the others, such as the curfew, Pitt said, the main thing was the momentum, and the Prime Minister and Cabinet are providing the political will. 

“The community needs to get behind the proposed changes too and support what the police are recommending,” Pitt said. 

The Prime Minister has given authority to Police Commissioner Maara Tetava and his staff to enforce harsher penalties in regards to drink driving, especially with repeat offenders.

Police have also asked to be able to continue to instantly impound vehicles and motorbikes if a driver is found to be over the legal alcohol limit, following a highly successful campaign over the Festive Season.    

The Prime Minister and Commissioner are travelling to Kiribati today to attend a regional meeting on anti-corruption and return next week.

On their return another stakeholder meeting is on the agenda to take up the proposals and both are positive in moving swiftly to ensure the safer traffic measures. 

Tetava met separately with Crown Law yesterday and said the discussions around the draft legislation were positive. 

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3 comments

  • Comment Link Maui Aupuni Tuesday, 04 February 2020 16:22 posted by Maui Aupuni

    My people of the CookIslands there is only one law and that is the law of the NATION and that is it.Well if you think there is another law, well you will be looking into the bush which our forefarthers implemented themselves. Comon kukis there are only 20k people in the Cooks. Australia has 20mil pl. Well if there is no one in Cooks then China will build a nuclear station on one of the islands in the Cooks. Here in Australia law is law but it doesnt mean if there is carnage on the road then the law will change no the law will get tough.Well I have been in Australia for 40years and it is on the news 24/7.It is better if there is a law. Thank you.

  • Comment Link Harvie Allison Sunday, 02 February 2020 15:51 posted by Harvie Allison

    so sad, was the youngster who died wearing a helmet as is the law for 16-25 year olds ? .. If you have a curfew on bike use after 10pm how are the workers going to get home or to work for night shift etc. ... guess what they ride bikes because they can't afford cars so you would be disadvantaging the poorer members of the community .. earphones & phones on bikes scare me senseless .. yes ban them now .. and while you are doing some good the biggest issue that seems to be missed is ... HOW ABOUT SOME FORMAL DRIVER/RIDER TRAINING .. especially for the youngsters, with proper instruction before gaining their licence surely this would help reduce the road toll ...

  • Comment Link Ina Teariki Saturday, 01 February 2020 23:24 posted by Ina Teariki

    Omg really it’s been happening alot and why for Mona as ??family members as a Prime minister should help out already after all the accidents back in Raro.Couldnt believe he just realised to help the youth and to work around each club’s to stop those drinking and drive.Pls there’s no way community are working together until parliament do something about it Need the parliament to stand by police as they doing their jobs too,but all new recruits are big headed as they think they are police and friends to friends or family not to take all drinking and drive keys away for getting more youth in Accidents.

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