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Ruta Tangiaau Mavé: Drink-drive crashes won’t be stopped by one tin hat

Monday February 03, 2020 Written by Published in Editorials
A crashed bike at Betela, after the driver collided with a car in the early hours of a Friday morning. 18032623 A crashed bike at Betela, after the driver collided with a car in the early hours of a Friday morning. 18032623

OPINION: Men make laws, to instantly solve issues, one they can put a lid on, wash their hands and walk away.  

That’s what Henry Puna announced. None of the proposed law changes will stop 14-year old’s drinking and driving..

Puna made a public gesture that has no follow-through or support systems to ensure they reduce the actual problem.

Dr Debi Futter-Puati admits, “helmets may not stop accidents happening”. She’s right.

* Making helmets mandatory for everyone: An 80-year-old mama wearing a helmet to church will not stop young boys from dying. The majority of sensible bike riders should not be punished.

“I admit I don’t wear a helmet, never have, but I will if it’s illegal not to,” says Rod Henderson, president of the Road Safety Council.

We should make helmets compulsory for all bike riders from 10pm to 6am, because they’re the ones who need it.

* Reducing alcohol limit to 250mcg: Problem drinkers are often one to three times over the limit. This won’t stop our youth drinking excessively and driving.

Again it punishes the sensible drinker from having one or two glasses of wine or beer after work.                                                                                                                                                         

* Banning phones or earphones: This could be effective for those who drive and text. For the sensible who use earphones to answer their phone keeping their hands on the wheel remain alert it will be annoying.                                                                                                                                     

* Curfew on motorbikes from 10pm to 6am: Many police, nurses, hospitality, workers won’t be available to work or attend the accidents that will continue to happen. They aren’t paid enough to buy cars.

I am MADD, Mothers Against Drink-Driving.  

When women make laws, they look at the whole issue – “how do we prevent accidents?” – by addressing the root of the problem, alcohol and speed.

All accidents create carnage, with or without a helmet. The focus should be on making our roads and community safer for everyone, not just drunk young men.

So here are my suggestions.

* Helmets should be mandatory for all bike riders from 10pm to 6am: Keep the 16-25yr helmet requirement during the day.

* Raise the drinking age to 21-years-old: All shops, bars, cafés and nightclubs must see photo ID, and those who sell alcohol to underage, intoxicated persons will be fined and shut down. Any underaged youth caught in bars, nightclubs or drunk on the street, to be heavily fined and required to complete an education program on alcohol, plus community service.

* Instant heavy fines and loss of licence for those texting and speeding while driving.


Real courageous leadership will empower the community to be better able to protect themselves.


Employ more police, nurses and teachers so they can implement the safeguards required to make the above laws work. 

Take the 45 per cent wage rise given to MPs and redirect it to police, teachers and health workers to give them a large wage rise immediately – they are struggling at the frontline dealing with these deaths.

Create funding to hire qualified guidance counsellors to be present on regular basis in all secondary schools, and deliver education programs on alcohol prevention and good decision making.

Reinstate, encourage and fund the voluntary wardens in each vaka and village to monitor and apply defensive measures to speeding and drunk drivers.

Have a defensive driving program for all new 16-year old drivers, an L-plate, prevent driving at night or with passengers, and after six months they have to complete a full safety driving and education test.

Engage all community leaders to enforce the message across our schools, businesses, churches and sports clubs of being there to prevent accidents. Reward heroes who stop others from driving drunk.

Preventing and reducing alcohol related accidents needs a comprehensive approach that addresses our drinking culture.


It can’t and won’t be solved or reduced with one tin hat.

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