‘Driver attitude has to change’

Thursday February 06, 2020 Written by Published in Crime
Cook Islands Police Prosecutor Senior Sergeant Paul Tararo holds 125 driver’s licences in his hands. 20020506 Cook Islands Police Prosecutor Senior Sergeant Paul Tararo holds 125 driver’s licences in his hands. 20020506

Road safety messages and proposed changes to road safety legislation are being blatantly ignored by the group most likely to die on Rarotonga roads.


Males aged 16 to 25 years represent nearly two thirds of the 60 fatalities on Rarotonga roads since 2008.

But the push by Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, Cook Islands Police Service and other key agencies to make the island’s road safer by implementing changes to current road safety legislation is falling on deaf ears, with young men still being pulled up for breaking the road rules.

On Tuesday a 16-year-old disqualified driver was sighted by police on a motorbike in Arorangi less than two weeks after being convicted for driving while under the influence of alcohol.

At the time of the first offence he was ordered to surrender his driving licence, which he didn’t have.

Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said the teenager will now be prevented from obtaining a licence for 12 months - as he did not hold one to surrender.

That means he will be 18 before he is able to hold a driver’s licence and if extended powers are given to police and he is caught driving again, he will most likely face jail time.  

Police are constantly nabbing convicted motorcyclists for breaching their court orders but proposed changes to the law could make them pay dearly in future, Pitt said.

Your driver’s licence may not be the only thing that you lose once proposed changes to road safety legislation are implemented.

A pile of 125 Cook Islands driver’s licences held by Cook Islands Police represent all drivers who are currently on the Disqualified List, otherwise known as the DQ List.

But if new laws come into place especially where reoffending is concerned, police want to have full authority to seize vehicles and motorbikes and destroy them.

Rod Henderson, the president of the Cook Islands Road Safety Council, said the extension of powers to the police to deal with law-breaking drivers could also mean the immediate disqualification from driving for 14 to 28 days – in similar fashion to a rule in Australia where the disqualification period is two months.

Instant fines and vehicle or motorbike impoundment, Henderson believes may be the only way to enforce the proposed laws.

Police are also asking for a minimum three-month prison term for those committing three driving offences in less than three years - otherwise known as the ‘three strikes’ rule.

Out of the current 125 disqualified drivers, motorcyclists by far outnumber the other vehicle types, Pitt said.  

“The DQ List is a ‘living’ compilation that changes over time as new convictions are added and older ones expire,” he said.  

“The 125 is as it stands today (Wednesday February 5) but tomorrow’s court will most likely add more.”  




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