‘We have only ourselves to blame’

Thursday February 20, 2020 Written by Published in Local
Daniel Mataroa was appointed the new president of the Cook Islands Road Safety Council a week ago. 20021914 Daniel Mataroa was appointed the new president of the Cook Islands Road Safety Council a week ago. 20021914

The community has failed to address the causes of road smashes – and that’s why there is now no choice but to put in place a helmet law to minimise the tragic effects of the crashes.

 

That’s the firm message from the new president of Cook Islands Road Safety Council, to those in the community unhappy at a helmet law.

Prime Minister Henry Puna has announced a road safety bill will be introduced to Parliament next month, which will also lower the drink-drive limit to 250mcg breath alcohol, and ban the use of cellphones and headphones while driving.

New road safety president Daniel Mataroa said there has been a lack of awareness from the community in addressing the main causes of road fatalities, resulted in the need for a helmet law.

The onus was on the community to address alcohol, and the choices young people make after drinking, which are the root causes of road fatalities in Rarotonga.

Leaving such issues to government for solutions would mean tougher laws, which some members of public may not agree with, Mataroa said.

The proposed changes to the road safety laws, especially the helmet law, have attracted backlash from some members of the public who believe the current legislation is sufficient to deal with road safety issues.

But Mataroa said a spate of fatal crashes involving young people had prompted the stakeholders to take these drastic measures.

“Alcohol and the choices young men and women make are the real causes of the problem and these problems need to be addressed by the community but we have been too slow in addressing them,” Mataroa said.

“When we the community wait and want government to solve all our issues then the government will solve it the way it knows how to solve it.

“The issue of alcohol and the choices young people make was something the churches, families, dance teams, the youth clubs and everyone in the community should have come together and worked on.

“But we have been too slow and now it got to the stage the government has stepped in to make the decision which is to enact a law that many don’t want.”

Mataroa said the Road Safety Council had been advocating compulsory helmets for years.

He said they were grateful to the stakeholders led by the government for the genuine steps they have taken in making helmets compulsory for all motorcyclists.

“We know the rule says that it’s compulsory for motorcyclists between the age of 16 to 25 years and visitors to wear helmets but I think it’s time there is one law for everyone.

“It’s like me telling my son not to smoke and I have got a cigarette in my hand, smoking away. That’s hypocritical. How we expect the young ones to follow when we don’t set examples.”

Mataroa also urged people who have issues with the new draft Bill to contact their MPs to air their concerns.

“It’s the MPs who will be making the decision for them in Parliament. If people have issues regarding the new draft Bill they should write to their MPs who will then take their views to Parliament when the Bill is brought up there.”

2 comments

  • Comment Link Debi Futter Saturday, 22 February 2020 13:32 posted by Debi Futter

    A doctor at the Rarotonga hospital told me last night he could think of 10 people he has worked on in recent years who would be here today if they had been wearing a helmet.. he said we can fix broken legs and arms, but not broken heads... #rocketscience? Of course it is a multisectoral approach that is needed - home, school, community, but lets be smart here and at least get everyone wearing helmets.

  • Comment Link Marie Borrell Thursday, 20 February 2020 10:52 posted by Marie Borrell

    It's not a community thing.. For our young ones it starts at home. Education and teaching our young ones about drinking and driving. Community can step up by working together to maybe help where parents can't by being a watchful eye out there in the community with the police.

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