Vehicle crashes at all-time high

Thursday October 04, 2018 Written by Published in Crime

Cook Islands Road Safety Council is calling on the authorities to tighten the law around drink driving after motor vehicle crashes, mostly resulting from alcohol, reached an annual high in September.

 

Police recorded 34 incidents - the highest monthly figure recorded in the country for at least the past two years. The previous high was 31 in August last year.

Alcohol continues to be the most significant contributor of incidents on the roads, followed by speed and then carelessness, said the police in a statement.

Cook Islands Road Safety Council president Brent Fisher said laws around drink driving need to be revisited in order to clampdown on alcohol-related road incidents.

He said they were disappointed to note an increase in road incidents despite their ongoing awareness on road safety.

“Alcohol is not only affecting people’s lives but also their relationships with their families and others. Laws around drink driving need to be rewritten,” Fisher said.

Road crash figures gathered by the police also include tourists involved in road incidents. Over the past six months, figures recorded by police show visitors involvement in crashes went from three per cent up to 17 per cent.

“Clearly, these drivers represent an important part of road safety efforts just on the increased level of rental vehicles alone,” said the police.

Statistically, however, local males 26 years and older on motorcycles are the high-risk group of drivers.

Road Safety Council’s Fisher said this makes a mockery of the helmet law, which states a person who is 16 or over and under 25 years of age must not drive or ride on a motorcycle without wearing an approved safety helmet.

“This statistic just proves why we need to make helmets compulsory for everyone. Government has to re-look at this law and review it quickly before more people die,” he said.

“I’m not saying helmets will save lives in crashes, but they do provide some safety to those involved in accidents.”

After revealing the September motor vehicle crashes figure, police said it would step up the prevention and enforcement efforts on road safety.

“Underway now is a searching look at police processes, commencing with assurances around the licensing of motorcycle drivers. At the licensing stage, visitors in particular need to be tested fully with the right messages about compliance,” said the police.

“Understandably, police officers often feel like they are ‘swimming against the tide’ of a local driving culture, driver attitudes and behaviour, and an uncontrolled growth in vehicle numbers on Rarotonga.

“Law enforcement figures and the question of whether the degree of accountability being applied is adequate to change the driving environment on our roads, will be presented soon.”

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