AVARUA, Cook Islands (The Cook Islands Herald, Jan. 13) - Police Commissioner Pira Wichman says a uniform speed limit for Rarotonga would help police control traffic on the island more effectively.

At present there are three speed limits – 30 kilometers per hour in downtown Avarua, 40 kmh in urban areas and 60 kmh on the open road.

Wichman says a standard speed limit of 50 kmh would be a good compromise, but motorists would have to be relied upon to show common sense when driving conditions were bad.

"I favour one speed limit because at the moment it’s just too hard to enforce the various limits. The main reason for that is that so many traffic signs around the island have been damaged or obscured by vegetation.

"One of our senior sergeants had put forward a plan to replace all the signs, but it would cost $15,000 which is a huge amount of money for us.

"At the same time though, there is an urgent need to update and upgrade our traffic laws to take into account the massive growth in numbers of vehicles since Cook Islands traffic regulations were introduced in 1966.

"We need to improve the entire package, including the size of the fines that can be imposed on motorists for speeding. At present they are obviously not adequate."

Wichman says he has been considering appointing a police officer to deal with special projects including transport and traffic, but has yet to discuss it with his executive.

Meanwhile, legal work surrounding the introduction of police service’s new radar speed detectors has been completed.

The radar - one hand-held unit and three vehicle-mounted units - were used at Arorangi yesterday morning. Police regard the village as a speeding hot spot because of the long, straight roads in the area.

"We are taking a softly, softly approach and concentrating on warning and education at this stage," Wichman says. "We have some restrictions on us with operating the speed detectors because too many traffic signs are no longer visible or have been damaged.

"In cases where there is some degree of ambiguity or doubt about the speed zone we are enforcing the 60kmh limit. 

"That’s all we can in the meantime."

January 17, 2003

The Cook Islands Herald: 

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