The bill was tabled in parliament last week by deputy prime minister and Minister of Transport Teariki Heather. It prompted a robust debate that drew varying views from MPs.
Presenting the bill, Heather said the amendment was in light of recent road accidents involving motorcycles where the victims had been in that age group.
“I am of the view that we work together as a team to ensure that the amendment bill is carried out for the sake of our young people out there.”
He said so far 32 motorcycle accidents on Cook Islands roads had involved victims aged 16 to 25 years.
In supporting the amendment bill, Minister of Health Nandi Glassie said the bill was based on a strong consultation that had been carried out in September last year.
He added it was also based on a statistical analysis which revealed the victims of most fatal motorcycle accidents were in the 16 to 25 age group.
“I also consulted the surgeons at Rarotonga Hospital and they said the biggest cause of deaths from these motorcycle accidents is from head injuries,” Glassie said.
“Should they (the victims) have been wearing safety helmets, most lives would have been saved.”
Glassie also said the unnecessary loss of lives on the road also cost taxpayers a lot of money.
Members of the opposition also supported the bill.
In 2008, government passed legislation to make the wearing of motorcycle helmets compulsory. The move was later defeated following public opposition.
However, statistics clearly show that the use of safety helmets results in fewer deaths and serious injuries.
The World Health Organisation says wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40 per cent and the risk of severe injury by over 70 per cent.
“When motorcycle helmet laws are enforced effectively, helmet wearing rates can increase to over 90 per cent,” a WHO report says.
“Requiring helmets to meet a recognised safety standard is important to ensure that helmets can effectively reduce the impact of a collision to the head in the event of a crash.”