Police warned the public that there will be increased road and traffic checks from Thursday through to January 6, in a bid to prevent crashes which are typically higher during the holidays.
Zero tolerance will be shown for those who fail to comply ‘with the four main causes of critical crashes’, the police announced on Wednesday.
They singled out speeding, drink driving, not wearing a seatbelt and not wearing a safety helmet as the main violations which lead to loss of life.
The Christmas period is typically a time when a higher number of crashes occur as many people are out driving, while violations such as drink driving also rise.
Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos on Monday chaired a meeting of the Road Safety Council focused on actions to stem the bloodshed on the roads — a day after two road fatalities in Paphos.
Forty-four people have lost their lives in 43 road accidents so far this year, including 14 motorcyclists and six pedestrians.
Two of the road fatalities occurred in the Paphos district on Sunday. Androula Papachristoforou, 60, died after a hit-and-run as she attempted to cross Priamou street in Paphos at around 9.15 pm.
Earlier on Sunday, Chris Simmons, a 26-year-old Briton permanent resident of Cyprus was killed when his car went off the road, crashed into a tree and rolled over several times before coming to a stop in a field on Ayios Georgios Avenue in Peyia.
Monday’s meeting, attended also by Justice Minister Stefi Dracou, police officials and representatives of the education ministry, was a scheduled session of the Road Safety Council to review implementation of a strategic road safety plan.
In statements to the media, Karousos said his ministry was taking action to promote better behaviour on Cyprus’ roads, aiming to reduce accidents and deaths to a minimum.
“We are promoting a series of policies that will provide citizens with available means to ensure their protection,” he said.
“We have dynamically and decisively begun the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Road Safety for the period 2021-2030.
“Of the 158 action plans mentioned in it, 70 have already been Implemented in 2021, corresponding to 44 per cent of the total.
“The most important tool at our disposal is the traffic camera system, which has been implemented on a pilot basis on our roads on October 25. The duration of the pilot phase is three months. Eight cameras are being utilised at the moment, four fixed and four mobile. Once the system is in full swing, it will feature a total of 90 fixed cameras in 30 locations nationwide, as well as 20 mobile cameras,” Karousos said.
Data collected from the pilot phase shows that citizens are familiarising with the system, as violations have significantly decreased, according to Karousos.
“Throughout the first week, an average of 804 violations per day were recorded by the cameras, with the number decreasing to 703 the following week and to 423 the one after,” he said.
The minister also added that accidents and deaths concerning motorcyclists are being carefully examined.
According to data collected from the EU-led ETSC Road Safety Performance Index (PIN), a policy tool to help EU Member States improve road safety, from 2018 to 2020 Cyprus recorded the highest death rate of motorcyclists involved in accidents who did not wear a helmet in the entire bloc.
“This is the reason why we have to act quickly, and I have personally met with organised groups of motorcyclists to listen to their concerns and suggestions on the issue,” Karousos said.
In this context, specific amendments to the driving licence law as regards motorbikes have been prepared. The first would introduce an expiry date to the learner’s driving licence, which will cease to be valid two years after being issued, in order to reduce the number of young drivers riding powerful motorcycles without a regular permit.
The second will prevent the holder of a learner’s motorbike driving licence from circulating on public roads without being accompanied by an official instructor.
Moreover, people driving bikes without their licence confirming they are allowed to do so will be criminally prosecuted. Driving schools will also be upgraded and moderninsed.
Karousos also added that in 2022 new plans regarding cyclists and pedestrians will be implemented.
“With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, we cannot afford to lose other lives on our streets. This year let’s all reach our destinations and our loved ones safely,” the Transport Minister concluded.
Six out of ten lawyers in Cyprus do not consider judges to be impartial, while eight out of ten believe judges are influenced by their personal ideological views, a survey has shown.
The findings of the survey, which included 228 lawyers, were presented at the law school symposium of the University of Nicosia.
It showed that 79.4 per cent of lawyers who participated believed judges are over-influenced by their personal views and 61 per cent do not consider judges impartial, Cyprus News Agency reported.
Meanwhile, 56.1 per cent of lawyers consider that public appreciation for their profession is moderate.
Another 55.7 per cent of responders said lawyers play an important role in the “occasional devaluation of the justice system by residents”.
The survey was carried out between July 1 and December 31 last year.
“There was a cultural problem in the justice process in Cyprus and those involved had to be convinced that a significant change and simplification of procedures were needed, as was the case in Britain,” British lawyer Lord Dyson told the event.
The reform of the rules of civil procedure is the seventh project funded by the European Commission. The proposed regulations were prepared by a group of experts, chaired by Lord Dyson.
During the event, other surveys were also presented about what will come after the new procedures are implemented and the use of artificial intelligence in civil justice.
The issue of law enforcement was also discussed at length and the need for immediate thorough reform of the relevant legal framework and other enforcement instruments.
The event was held in memory of former attorney-general, Alecos Markides who died in April last year.
The Data Commissioner’s office said on Wednesday it has officially approved the operation of the traffic cameras with fines being issued from January 1.
Following consultations with the police and the contractor the data commissioner’s office said it has approved the operation of the traffic cameras system. It added that its assistance concerned all stages of the system, from capturing a traffic violation on camera, to the payment of the out-of-court fines.
This was to ensure that the system’s operation will be in accordance with the law on traffic offences and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The commissioner’s office said that it provided guidance “for the clear distinction of the roles of the police and the contractor as well as his subcontractors, for organisational and technical security measures and for the collection of information in order to identify the owner of the vehicle or the driver.”
Police also submitted an assessment of the impact of the system’s operation based on the GDPR.
“After it was found that, all the comments submitted for guidance were taken into account and that the requirements of the GDPR are met,” the commissioner’s office said, the system’s operation was approved.
But the commissioner’s office also called on the police and the contractor to be on constant alert to make sure the law and the GDPR are strictly followed.
Issuing of fines are expected to begin on January 1, after the contracts are signed for the processing and final inspection of the system, it added.
“Data collected or that will be collected before the contracts are signed, as part of system testing, will be destroyed,” the office said.
The pilot operation of eight traffic cameras – four fixed and four mobile – started last October and though authorities had said those caught violating traffic regulations would receive warning letters until the end of the year, this was delayed afer the data protection commissioner found gaps in the procedure.
The contract concerns the design, installation, operation and maintenance of the traffic-camera system. It includes 90 fixed cameras in 30 locations around the island to cover black spots on the road network, as well as 20 mobile cameras which police will determine their location and operating hours on a daily basis. The cost of installing the system amounts to €8m and the operating cost for five years is estimated at €35m.
Cameras will report speeding, running a red light and crossing a stop line. Once these are detected, other offences such as use of a mobile phone while driving, drivers not wearing a seat belt or bikers not wearing a helmet can also be reviewed.
Police will launch an islandwide campaign on Monday against driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
The traffic police will carry out checks until Sunday December 12, and they said they will show zero tolerance.
Drin/drug driving in addition to careless and distracted driving have been the two largest causes of fatal accidents in Cyprus over the last three years, accounting for 27.8 per cent and 20.8 per cent of them respectively.
Also, around a quarter of traffic accidents throughout Europe are caused by drink driving.
The use of drugs can affect the ability to concentrate and lead to a reduction in reaction time of the driver.
Cyprus reported the highest share of dangerous goods being transported by road in both 2019 and 2020, according to figures issued by Eurostat on Wednesday.
The EU’s statistical office said that overall the share of dangerous goods transported in the EU (in tonne-kilometres) remained the same in 2019 and 2020 at around 4 per cent of the EU total.
The member states that recorded the highest shares of dangerous goods in their road transport were Cyprus, which has no other mode of transport, (9 per cent in 2019, 12 per cent in 2020), Belgium (10 per cent, 9 per cent) and Finland (8 per cent, 7 per cent). In contrast, Slovakia, Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia recorded shares of dangerous goods of less than 2 per cent in 2019; Ireland, Lithuania and Slovakia recorded such low shares also in 2020.
The largest group transported was ‘flammable liquids’, accounting for more than half of the total transport of dangerous goods in tonne-kilometres (54 per cent in 2019 and 53 per cent in 2020). ‘Gases’ (compressed, liquefied or dissolved under pressure) accounted for 14 per cent in 2019 and 15 per cent in 2020, while ‘corrosives’ accounted for 12 per cent in both years. The distribution between the different types of dangerous goods has remained relatively stable over time.
With regards to the types of all (dangerous and non-dangerous) goods transported in 2020, ‘metal ores and other mining and quarrying products’ was the largest product group transported in terms of tonnage, accounting for one quarter (25 per cent) of the EU total. Together, ‘other non-metallic mineral products’ and ‘food, beverages and tobacco’, each with a share of 12% of the total, nearly accounted for a further quarter. Another important product group was ‘agricultural, forestry and fishery products’, with a share of 10 per cent.