Transport minister pledges road safety overhaul | Cyprus Mail

Cyprus’ drive to reduce annual road fatalities to zero will see a near total overhaul of the rules and regulations which are currently enforced, according to statements made on Wednesday by Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos.

In outlining the goals of the ministry’s ‘Vision Zero’ policy – zero road deaths – Karousos praised the progress made over the past three decades in reducing fatalities, but lamented that Cyprus appears to now be stuck at about 50 road deaths per year.

“After the initial decrease from 130 road deaths in 1990 to 60 in 2005, between 2010 to 2021 the reduction was limited to about 50 road deaths per year,” he said, but adding that injuries in the past decade fell by 76 per cent.

He also stressed the difficulty and importance of further reductions since most people use cars as their mode of transport.

The policies which aim to achieve an ambitious total elimination of road fatalities range from the speed limit being set at 30km/h in urban centres and residential neighbourhoods, to significantly tightening the rules for motorcyclists’ licences and overhauling the protocols for driving instructors and examiners.

In January, cabinet approved the ministry’s proposal which would restrict the scope and use of learner motorcyclist licenses. It must still pass through parliament, where it is facing opposition.

Another key tool to achieve zero road deaths is the traffic camera system, Karousos said, as he expressed the hope that the first phase of the programme will be completed this summer – as it is still stuck in its pilot phase.

Elsewhere, efforts will be made to regulate driving instructors so that they must undergo lifelong training themselves, means to grade and evaluate their performance and categorising the schools and instructors according to their qualifications, experience and classes on offer.

The minister, who was speaking at a conference organised by Roadpol, also said that further expansion of cycling lanes and pavements are also important way to ensure road safety.

Highlighting the starkly unequal dangers faced by some on the road, Karousos emphasised that 28 per cent of fatalities are those aged up until 25, 70 per cent of deaths occur on urban roads while nearly 70 per cent of those deaths are of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Fatalities amongst motorcyclists are proportionally 14 times higher than those driving other vehicles such as cars, he said.

Karousos said that the current aim for the ministry is to reduce serious injuries and road fatalities by 50 per cent by 2030.

Source: Transport minister pledges road safety overhaul | Cyprus Mail

Police clamp down on drunk driving, speeding in Paphos | Cyprus Mail

A total of 220 drivers were booked in a coordinated operation by Paphos police over the last three days.

According to the police spokesperson, Michalis Nikolaou, three drivers were found driving under the influence of drugs, 36 drivers were fined for driving under the influence of alcohol, and 100 for exceeding speed limits. The remainder were fined for various other traffic offenses.

The operation for the prevention of traffic violations covered Paphos city as well as the surrounding countryside and villages.

Nikolaou said that the coordinated operations will be ongoing at a later stage.

Source: Police clamp down on drunk driving, speeding in Paphos | Cyprus Mail

Another luxury car scam uncovered at transport ministry | Cyprus Mail

Yet another scam has been uncovered at the transport ministry, again involving imported luxury cars, but this time centred on dodging thousands in tax via prolonged use of test-driving plates.

Some owners of supercars and luxury, behemoth SUVs worth over €100,000 are driving for up to five years – in some cases – with test plates which, by law, are not permitted for more than 15 days.

As such, the cars are unregistered, the owners have not paid the required taxes, but the vehicles continue to be driven on the roads regardless.

The audit office and an official at the transport ministry recently carried out checks at car dealerships and found that systematic, illegal use of test plates is ongoing.

They uncovered that some car dealers, their family members and employees at the companies never register their vehicles and permanently use test plates instead.

It was also discovered that car dealers hand out test plates to customers – at a cost of €200 – who in turn dodge thousands in tax due to the state, presumably offering kickbacks to the car salesmen.

The investigation further found that test plates were declared to be at multiple different locations simultaneously, while other plates which were rescinded by the ministry were still in use. Further still, test plates from a single set were found to be in use by multiple cars, which in turn only wore a single plate. It was also discovered that car dealers were handing out test plates to members of the public who imported their own cars and used them illegally for months.

Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos confirmed that abuse of the test plate system was occurring, telling daily Politis – which first reported on the issue – that measures are being taken to address the issue.

One such measure is to only allocate dealerships with test plates according to their volume of work.

Police in the past have carried out island wide checks in an attempt to address the scam, issuing fines, but those efforts evidently failed in light of the ongoing fraud.

According to the law, those found to be abusing the test plates system face up to a year in prison, €5,000 in fines, or both. Car dealers defrauding the system face up to €1,700 in fines, up to a year in prison, or both – with further potential sanctions.

Cyprus is no stranger to car-scams, as an explosive case emerged within the last year which has so far led to four arrests.

That case centred on a second-hand car scam which involved officials at the transport department allegedly doctoring documents to pass off damaged luxury cars as new.

The case also led to the senior transport department employee who tipped off police about the scam being targeted by arsonists who allegedly tried to silence him by destroying two cars parked at his house.

The charges being investigated include abuse of power, issuance of false documents by civil servants, forgery, neglect of official duty, among others, while further arrests are expected, the police said.

Source: Another luxury car scam uncovered at transport ministry | Cyprus Mail

336 traffic offences in 12 hours in Paphos district | Cyprus Mail

Police booked 48 drivers for speeding during a 12-hour road safety campaign in the Paphos district.

They were among 336 total offences reported from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm on Wednesday at well-known blackspots in the district as well as in Polis Chrysochous and on the motorways.

The campaign was carried out by the unit for the prevention of road accidents at police headquarters, traffic police and other officers and came within the framework of efforts to reduce road fatalities and serious collisions and to bolster road safety awareness.

Overall, police booked 336 offences of which 78 were for failure to wear a seat belt, 65 for driving without road tax, 55 for driving without free hands and 48 for speeding. Five cars and one moped were confiscated.

Source: 336 traffic offences in 12 hours in Paphos district | Cyprus Mail

Smart traffic lights to be installed in 125 locations in Nicosia and Limassol | Cyprus Mail

Smart traffic lights are to be installed at 125 locations in Nicosia and Limassol as part of a smart traffic management system, Transport Minister Yiannos Karousos said on Friday.

He told reporters during a visit to Limassol that tenders will be invited in about two months.

“There will be sensors that will receive all the data and the system will decide how much priority to give each time,” he said.

A similar system was introduced at the Ayia Fyla roundabout, to a mixed reception from the public but praise from the ministry which said it had cut travel time in half.

Karousos said there will be a central management system at the department of public works and that municipalities would also have a say in the system.

Smart traffic lights will reduce waiting times for drivers and ease traffic congestion. Moreover, the system will be able to identify buses, ambulances and taxis and give them priority, he added.

As regards the remaining roundabouts on the Limassol highway, Karousos said that a study was underway for a similar system as that at Ayia Phyla. “If it shows that there will be improvement, we will go ahead and install smart traffic lights at those roundabouts too,” he added.

The ministry has already signed a contract that is currently being implemented to install sensors and cameras on the motorways to provide data that will be displayed to drivers on electronic placards. Information will be provided on issues such as congestion and accidents, and alternative routes proposed so as to improve traffic flows.

Source: Smart traffic lights to be installed in 125 locations in Nicosia and Limassol | Cyprus Mail

Authorities called to tackle rise in scooter use on roads | Cyprus Mail

By Elias Hazou and Jonathan Shkurko

Members of the House transport committee on Thursday called on the government to work on regulating the use of personal mobility vehicles in Cyprus, most notably electric scooters.

A scooter is any self-propelled device using any form of energy, which can carry a seated or standing person. The device has handlebars, a drive shaft, and at least two wheels.

The topic of the committee was road safety and Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos was present during the discussions.

The government bill governing the use of scooters or e-scooters is an interim arrangement, in anticipation of an EU directive regulating the matter.

It provides that scooters can be used only in bicycle paths or bicycle lanes, or in a space that is an extension of a bicycle lane – such as a communal area used by cyclists and pedestrians, or in a square or sidewalk following a decision by the local municipality or local authority.

Operators must be 16 years old and over, and must wear a helmet. At a minimum, a scooter must have a breaking system, lights in front and in the back, a bell, and tyres. The maximum allowable speed is 15 km per hour.

The bill also includes regulations for importers and traders of scooters – again relating to scooters’ technical specifications, as well as regulations governing the licensing of scooter rentals.

Additionally, the proposed legislation spells out the offences and the related penalties.

Akel MP Yiannakis Gavriel called the proposed legislation a step in the right direction. But certain concerns remained – such as that there exists no requirement to register these devices, which could lead to unchecked imports.

For her part, Disy MP Fotini Tsiridou said the aim was to find ways to tackle road accidents on the island.

“Personal mobility vehicles were firstly introduced as recreation vehicles, but, due to their growing popularity, they are now increasingly used as proper means of transport.

“This development forces us to plan for their regulation, taking into account various parameters, based on road safety, mobility, but also urban planning, traffic and other data,” Tsiridou said.

According to her, three bills regarding road safety have also been submitted to the transport ministry.

The first one concerns the regulation of the circulation of bicycles, with emphasis of who can ride them and where.

The second one aims at regulating the settling of out-of-court fines for motorists caught breaking road safety rules, while the third one proposes the ban on circulation of personal mobility vehicles on roads.

In addition to the three bills, the committee discussed amending the law on the driver’s license.

“Based on a study carried out by the EU on the cost of motorcycle accidents in each country in relation to the social and economic impact, it emerged that the yearly cost for Cyprus is €250 million,” Tsiridou said.

The amendment will propose a time limit on a learner’s permit, the expiry of which will force the driver to retake the exam in order to obtain it again.

The proposed bill will also deem it mandatory for all motorcycle drivers to wear a helmet and protective equipment.

Employers of delivery drivers, mostly working on mopeds, will have to provide them with helmets and protective gear.

Source: Authorities called to tackle rise in scooter use on roads | Cyprus Mail

Traffic cameras still stuck in ‘pilot’ phase | Cyprus Mail

The traffic camera saga continues: They’re up, they’re working, but they appear to be stuck in the ‘pilot’ phase – with 50,000 violations recorded since the start of the year but 2,000 fines handed out.

Severe delays in issuing fines appears to be linked to a difficulty in identifying drivers and cross-referencing their details across various government databases and linking them to the correct address.

The transport and justice ministers are due to meet this week to try and smooth out the process, while Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos insisted on Tuesday the programme will progress.

But the company handling the cameras, Conduent State & Local Solutions, has reportedly contacted the electromechanical services department to ask when the next – first official – phase will begin, with no answer having yet been received, according to Philelefetheros.

Karousos said that the first phase will be implemented once the necessary solutions are found, and played down the backlog – saying that the purpose of the pilot period was to identify such issues.

As it stands, the traffic camera system in the Republic remains with just the four stationary and four mobile units installed late last year despite the initial plans setting out for 110 units – of which 90 would be stationary and 20 mobile.

But that appears to be a long way off: of the 50,000 violations recorded since January, only 10,000 such offences have had been reviewed and linked to the correct drivers, with just the 2,000 fines issued. There are fears that if more cameras were to come online then the system would be further choked and bogged down.

The pilot phase began on October 25, 2021 and was only set to last for three months – with the first phase after that itself only set for six months with the addition of a further 16 mobile units and 20 stationary units.

The second phase was originally set to be completed within a year of the first phase and envisaged a further 66 stationary units.

But with 48,000 violations not having been sorted within three months, it appears that the traffic camera system is a long way off being able to manage the volume of infractions which would flood in from a further 36 camera units as set out in phase one, yet alone the 66 from phase two.

Source: Traffic cameras still stuck in ‘pilot’ phase | Cyprus Mail

Police fine more than 950 drivers in three days | Cyprus Mail

More than 950 violations were recorded over the last three days, police said on Sunday.

In a concerted effort across the island, police were active to prevent serious and fatal traffic collisions and ensure safe movement on the roads.

Until Sunday morning, during traffic inspections carried out since Friday by the traffic police more than 950 traffic violations were reported.

Police said violations included speeding, traffic lights violations, as well as driving under the influence of alcohol.

A total of 568 drivers were reported for speeding while for traffic signal and traffic lights violations 84 drivers were reported.

Twenty five drivers tested positive for driving under the influence of alcohol, while 10 drivers tested positive for a preliminary drugs test.

Another 27 complaints were made for not using a seat belt by drivers and passengers, 19 complaints were made for driving with non-free hands, and 33 complaints about offences of illegal parking.

According to the police, there were 17 complaints of drivers not covered by an insurance certificate, as well as 18 complaints of drivers who had no MOT, and 112 complaints for driving without valid registration.

Source: Police fine more than 950 drivers in three days | Cyprus Mail

Motorist sentenced to four months in prison for traffic violations   | Cyprus Mail

Limassol district court on Wednesday sentenced a 26-year-old to four months in prison for a series of traffic violations committed on January 29.

He was found guilty of driving a motor vehicle without an insurance and licence, with an expired MOT and driving while having his driving licence suspended by a court. There were six charges in all.

He was handed concurrent sentences with the longest being that of four months in prison.

Source: Motorist sentenced to four months in prison for traffic violations   | Cyprus Mail

Around 1,300 drivers fined in 48 hours | Cyprus Mail

Police booked around 1,300 drivers for various traffic offences between March 4 and 5, they said on Sunday.

During the checks, 672 drivers were fined for speeding and 15 for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, 75 for not using a seat belt, 84 for using a mobile phone while driving and 206 for signal violations.

The remainder of the fines related to other driving offences.

Police said on Friday they would be stepping up patrols over the long weekend.

Source: Around 1,300 drivers fined in 48 hours | Cyprus Mail