Rarotonga police backing compulsory helmets
The Cook Islands police say the high number of motorcycle-related accidents on Rarotonga's roads show the wearing of helmets should be made compulsory.
The Cook Islands police say the high number of motorcycle related accidents on Rarotonga's roads show the wearing of helmets should be made compulsory.
Police Inspector John Strickland says the current law states anyone driving under 40 kilometres an hour is not required to wear a helmet.
He says the police are working with a number of ministries to come up with new safety strategies, and discussing whether the law around helmets should change.
Mary Baines began by asking Mr Strickland about a new rule he enforced that all novice motorcycle riders undertaking their licence tests must wear a helmet.
JOHN STRICKLAND: There has been a few crashes of clients running into the wall, running into a nearby car, crashing into it and so forth. So it's not a nice scene if you can just imagine someone running over panicked and so forth. There has been instances where a lot of our visitors coming in and taking this particular test here at the station as an area for them to practise. And that is not what we are looking for. Our executives together with the commissioner had a discussion and came up to a conclusive decision that all clients that will undergo practical drivers licence tests on a motorcycle here at the police headquarters will have to wear an approved safety helmut
MARY BAINES: So (motorcyclists) are still not required to wear helmets on the road?
JS: Alright. The law is quite straightforward at the moment. The law states that anyone who rides a motorcycle at 40km you are not required to wear a safety helmet. In 2007 we were in the process of pushing a compulsory wearing of safety helmets and there was protests against that. At the end of the day that particular part of the law was not amended.
MB: Do you see that law changing any time soon?
JS: We have gone through what we call a combined ministries working on our new strategies towards safety. Now this is a combination of the ministry of health, the ministry of police, the ministry of works or the ICI in other words, infrastructure, and we even have a lot of consultation with the public and the three districts here in Rarotonga. We even have the support of the house of Ariki, the Koutu Nui, and we have gone around the three districts to meet and discuss on the new approach. Not only on safety helmets, I have to say this. It also includes any other areas of safety that we should look at. It remains whether helmets will be made compulsory, that is yet to be decided upon because we still have to go through the process, the consultation to the public, that will come later on in the month or probably this year and it is not that simple.
MB. Sure. So what would the police's stance be on that? Would you want to see helmets for under 40km an hour?
JS: Well here at the ministry the compulsory wearing of safety helmets is the way to go. Statistics speak for itself. It's very clear with the number of motor vehicle crashes that has been happening here in the country. If you look at the WHO statistics and reports, the Cook Islands has a very high rate. It has been read at 9.9 percent per capita. That is very high. Fatalities are very high as well, and a lot of that is of motorcycle involvement.
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