Tourists at risk from our road conditions

Friday August 18, 2017 Published in Smoke Signals

Why are the police picking on tourists and making out they are trying to protect them from harm with all these ridiculous rules on helmets and licences?

The tourists are not at risk from any of these, they actually sit better and more detailed driving tests in their home countries. Tourists who already possess motorbike licenses are better equipped to handle our roads than we are. The reason tourists fall off their bikes is mostly due to our shoddy road conditions. Potholes, loose gravel, roaming dogs and locals who don’t know any road rules are more to blame, but the police do nothing to ensure they are safe from those.


Alcohol is the main factor in most of our fatal accidents and most of the time it is residents who live here who are drinking and driving that are killing themselves on our roads. Why are the police not targeting them more? Where are the driving tests for our young drivers?  No-one has a L plate to show they have only recently started riding a bike or driving a car. No-one uses their indicator or follows the road rules because there is no evidence anywhere that they are taught to use them and had them enforced. Some walk into the police station and obtained a licence with no theory or practical test.


It’s time the police left the tourists alone Most have had years of experience strict road rules and are able to look after themselves. It’s a safe bet that most of them have insurance, so we do not have to “nana” them. But we need to do more about our culture of drink driving.


Zero tolerance on driving with alcohol, and more check points outside all bars offering cheap drinks all day and night, is one answer to keep people safe on the roads, especially those who are statistically most at risk.  Males aged 16 - 25 years driving late at night and in the early hours of the morning on weekends, are the ones dying on our roads. This is a common problem the world over. With or without helmets, with or without seat belts, alcohol is the curse that kills.


It is time government made changes to the Cook Islands drinking culture, that will effectively reduce our road toll. They can start by raising the drinking age to 21 years the same as the United States, and require a photo identity for entrance to all bars, night clubs and liquor stores. With the cooperation of the police they could have check points outside all the bars so drinkers never have a chance to get on their bike or drive their car.


A first-time visitor to Rarotonga says he’s staggered at the apparent lack of rules – or forethought, that seems to go into building homes beside – and even on, the beach. “Some of these homes, even the newer ones, look like disasters waiting to happen. If there was a cyclone, many of them would be wiped out. And sitting a house right on the beach surely can’t be good for the health of the lagoon.”

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