Motorbike helmet law comes under question

Monday October 15, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I write this letter out of pure concern for the education of our students. 

 

I read in the paper last week a story in which police spokesman Trevor Pitt said, “The police, for instance, do not target school students.”

I find this a very dubious statement. 

There have been many, many times I have driven through checkpoints on the backroad near Tereora College just when school has finished. Why would the police frequently erect checkpoints near the school unless they were targeting students? I have never seen a checkpoint on the backroad anywhere in the afternoon except at Tereora. 

Why is there a checkpoint there when clearly most of the traffic is on the main road? 

As my friend Trevor handles the public relations side of the police, possibly he is not aware of what the priorities are in the operations part of the department. 

Moreover, I read a few days ago in a story from the police that the profile of most bike offenders are in their mid-20s, which begs the question as to why are we hassling 13-18 year olds at Tereora?

All this without mentioning the fines, court costs and time, criminal record, etc. that these students have to contend with which all takes time and energy away from learning in school.

We all know our priorities are burglaries, arson, drink driving, etc. not teenage helmet laws.  I don't know all the details and data around the application of our helmet laws, but it seems a re-analysis should be considered. 

Let's get back to our real priority for teenagers, facilitating their education, and let them go to school in peace.

            Teanaroa Worthington

 

Police spokesman Trevor Pitt replies: this is a rather simplistic view of how the police actually approach road safety. If there is advocacy for a change to the helmet law, then the police are not the “door” to knock on. 

I am unable to divulge police strategy and tactics, for obvious reasons. Road safety is the objective of traffic checkpoints.  Last month, 265 road checkpoints were conducted by police officers around Rarotonga. 

Checkpoints are staged over the course of 24 hours in three shifts.  That means a considerable amount of time and effort checking compliance with all documentation (driver plus vehicle) and other requirements like speed, safety helmets and testing for excess alcohol. 

The public, including those who write letters to CINews, should be assured that the police take into consideration the data on all aspects of driving. Police strategy is broadly applied around Rarotonga at all times of the day - and not specifically aimed at the students exiting or coming to school. 

As I have mentioned, the data supports the approach being made by the police to ensure everyone is safe on our roads.

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