10 Oct 2017

Radar speed signs installed to reduce speed on Rarotonga

10:57 am on 10 October 2017

Rarotonga in the Cook Islands is installing radar speed signs in an effort to improve road traffic safety on the island.

Rarotonga radar speed sign

Rarotonga radar speed sign Photo: Supplied: Cook Islands Police Service

Speed is one of the top three issues on Rarotonga's roads, along with drink driving and careless driving.

Rarotonga has been criticised in the past by the World Health Organisation for having the second highest number of road traffic deaths per capita in the world.

The signs, known as "traffic calming" devices, inform drivers to slow down if they are going above the speed limit.

According to US-based Radarsign, an industry specialising in traffic solutions, radar speed signs can reduce speeding by 80 percent.

Twelve of the solar-powered devices were set up outside the Church of the Latter-Day Saints in Arorangi last week.

Local businessman Henry Napa came up with the idea to install the devices on the island.

Cook Islands Police Service's Inspector John Strickland praised Mr Napa's idea.

"He did it all himself, applying for funding from the India Grant Fund, totalling $140,000 and once approved, he received 12 of the latest pole-mounted devices for his project.

"Mr Napa had a chat with our Commissioner of Police when he was successful of securing the funding and our Commissioner gave him the approval for all the signs to be installed.

"Mr Napa decided to share the twelve signs to the three districts in Rarotonga; four in Puaikura, four in Takitumu and four in Te Au O Tonga, as a starting point," he said.

Cook Islands police inspector John Strickland

Cook Islands police inspector John Strickland Photo: RNZI / Mary Baines

Inspector John Strickland from the Cook Islands Police said news of the signs caused some confusion for the public.

"This is an information digital speed sign, like what other countries such as New Zealand have. It's not a camera radar detector system that will take footage of vehicles with a record of its speed," he said.

President of the Cook Islands road safety council Brent Fisher was pleased with the decision to install them in Arorangi.

"There's a few areas in Rarotonga where we've got some pretty straight roads and people tend to put their foot down and speed, especially in Arorangi."

RNZ Pacific's correspondent in the Cook Islands Florence Syme Buchanan said, as well as speed, there were other issues on Rarotonga's roads.

"Speed is an issue especially with our young people and when you don't have them wearing helmets, which is another issue.

"It is no wonder the Cook Islands have some of the highest figures for deaths on roads from motorbike incidents in the world," she said.

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Photo: AFP

Mr Fisher added that there were also bad road conditions, especially in Muri.

"When there's a nightmarket on or event on, there has been cases where even a fire truck or ambulance can't get drive through because people park their cars silly.

"We have careless drivers speeding down those areas too while the markets are on.

"That area is already down to 30km/h and even on that limit, when you can only see a couple of cars in front of you, it is still too fast."

Infrastructure Cook Islands will be working together with Henry Napa with installation of the signs at appropriate locations across the Cook Islands.

More of the devices will be installed in the coming months.

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