From Thursday, fines for motorcyclists not wearing a crash helmet will more than double to €200, while those not wearing a seat belt will have to fork out €150.
The increased fines are part of a raft of tough new measures for traffic violations which cover speeding, drink-driving, reckless driving, failing to wear a helmet or a seat belt, and cell phone use while driving.
The changes are part of an ongoing effort aimed at limiting Cyprus’ high number of road deaths and serious injuries. At 67 deaths per 1 million inhabitants, the island has more road deaths per one million inhabitants than the EU average of 51.
“We hope that the increased penalties for traffic violations will help improve the safety on our roads and, at the same time, we expect full cooperation from drivers,” a police statement released on Tuesday said.
“Only this way can we drastically reduce road accidents and the consequent loss of lives on our roads.”
For some violations, the new penalties are extremely severe. For example, drivers failing to wear a seat belt will have to pay a €150 fine, which will be raised to €300 if there is a second offence within three years.
The fine for not wearing a helmet will rise from the current €85 to €200 and then €300 for a second violation.
Using a mobile phone while at the wheel will now cost drivers €150, instead of the current €85, with the fine potentially rising to €300 in case of a second violation within three years.
The fine for parking in a spot reserved for the disabled will rise from €85 to €300, as will the one for drivers who run a red light.
Filenews 26 September 2020 – byMichalis Hatzivasilis
In addition to the increased penalties coming on 1 October, Traffic will have two more weapons at its disposal to track down illegal drivers on the roads in an effort to reduce accidents.
In the next few days it will receive ten new patrol cars with radar installed to detect speed offences, while in the control of drivers on motorways will be thrown all five conventional vehicles at the disposal of the Traffic Police. The advantage of the 10 patrol cars that will be given to the members of the Traffic Police is that they will be able to detect speed offences on the go. So far, radar checks have been carried out by a parked vehicle or by a police officer holding it in his hand. Now the new radars will allow traffic officers to carry out speed checks while they themselves are moving on motorways. This will give Traffic an advantage to surprise drivers who do not expect control from a police car that is either in front of them, behind them, or even at their side.
Until now, drivers knew that at certain points on motorways they were “setting up” radars so when they approached they lowered speed and as soon as they passed the point or saw that there was no police car they continued to breach the speed limit. It is noted that all 10 patrol cars with radar installed will be given for patrol on major roads and not for cities.
As far as conventional vehicles are concerned, the Traffic Department currently has five which it uses on major roads. The advantage of these vehicles is that they have no badges, no beacons but sirens and so are not perceived by drivers to comply proactively. The officers who staff them will wear uniform so that the drivers at the check know that they are Police.
Meanwhile, Traffic is starting from next Monday a campaign to control drivers in cities and in general in residential areas, after it has been found that 84% of accidents occur in urban areas and 64% in general in residential areas. The controls will mainly cover speed, safety belts and a mobile phone while driving.
Tolerance for exceeding the speed limit in cities and residential areas in general is permanently reduced and from the 20% in force so far it falls to 10%.
The Road Safety Board yesterday approved the Traffic Department’s recommendation to lower the limit, on the grounds that most fatal and serious road collisions occur in cities.
Traffic essentially decided to follow the English model that provides tolerance of 10% plus two kilometers. Thus, from 1 October drivers will be denounced as follows according to the Director of Traffic, Giannaki Georgiou:
For a limit of up to 30 km (urban roads and others) the tolerance will be up to 35 km and from 36 and above offenders will be reported.
For a limit of 50 km or more which is the most common in towns and villages, the tolerance will be up to 57 km and from 58 and above there will be complaints from drivers. So far the complaints have been made from 63 km or more.
For a limit of 65 km. tolerance will be 73.5 km. and of the 74 complaints will be made.
It does not change the tolerance limit of 20% on motorways and long-city roads which are 100 km and 80 respectively and remains at 120 km and 97, respectively.
According to information provided by the “F”, the Department of Public Works argued that the tolerance limit on motorways should also be reduced to 110 km plus two, but this proposal was not accepted because there is no serious problem of fatal road collisions on major roads, since deaths range from one to three a year.
The Road Safety Council also addressed the issue of extending the powers of municipal traffic wardens, with the Minister of Justice, Emily Yolitis, calling on municipalities to contact the Chief of Police asking for permission to give traffic wardens powers to report drivers for 53 offences other than those entitled to report them now.
Already, the Municipalities of Nicosia and Ayia Napa have proceeded to extend the powers of their traffic wardens. Those municipalities that express an interest, then their members who will report, will be trained by the Police.
Part of police efforts to reduce road deaths will mean less tolerance for drivers within cities who exceed the speed limit.
Currently, drivers who are 20 per cent above the speed limit are given a pass but under a new proposal this could be reduced to 10 per cent above the limit.
The move comes as the road transport department carried out a study which found that 70 per cent of road deaths in Cyprus occur within built-up areas. This far exceeds the EU average of 35 per cent. Their study will be presented to the Road Safety Council next week.
Cyprus also ranks as one of the highest countries in the EU as regards road deaths per head of the population.
As the focus is speeding within the city areas, the 20 per cent leniency shown towards those speeding on the highways is unlikely to be tinkered with.
Under current regulations, if the speed limit is 50km/h on a city road then a driver will be fined if they are going above 70km/h. With the new proposal, however, the driver will be fined if they are going above 60km/h.
Last week, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos set the timeframe for the installation of traffic cameras to begin in the first two months of 2021 – provided there are no appeals during the tenders’ process.
While reducing road deaths is a top priority, so is reducing the ballooning traffic load currently plaguing Nicosia.
Since schools reopened on Monday, much of Nicosia has been gridlocked and traffic jams far above the usual levels.
Director of Road Transport Giannakis Georgiou said that there will be more traffic police on duty at major intersections to try and smooth out the flow of cars.
The difficulties are immense, as according to Georgiou the daily number of cars entering the capital now stands at 56,000, compared to the same period last year when there were 38,000.
Nicosia mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis said earlier this week that each year when schools reopen there is a great increase in traffic which typically tapers off to the usual levels.
He noted that the main issue arises from the vast majority of people relying on private transport and this has also been the major mode of transportation for decades.
Thousands of applicants to obtain a normal vehicle saloon driving licence will have to go through ten compulsory driving lessons, while applicants to obtain a normal motorcycle driving licence will have to pass up to 17 courses paying hundreds of euros each. Approximately 25,000 student licences are issued each year for all types of vehicles.
Those who ride a motorcycle, even for 40-50 years, will be surprised, since at some stage the student driving licence will cease to be valid and will be replaced by a normal licence, after the candidates pass practical courses of an approved driving school. Many of the drivers have never been in the process of securing a normal motorcycle driving licence, which they will be obliged to do in the future.
The issue of compulsory courses was discussed yesterday before the parliamentary Transport Committee and the Deputy Director of the Department of Road Transport, Giannis Nikolaidis, said that the issue was discussed with the associations of driving schools involved and common positions emerged which are reflected in the bill under discussion.
Referring to category B, i.e. the category in which saloon vehicles are classified, Mr Nikolaidis said that instead of five courses that were the original intention, after consultation they increased to ten. When someone is rejected in the examination that will be submitted, they will be required to attend another five courses.
With regard to motorcycles, Mr Nikolaidis said that compulsory training (lessons) would be introduced, which currently applies only to large-scale motorcycles over 600cc (A3). There are no courses for motorcycles in the category of 125cc or even in the category up to 400cc, said Mr Nikolaidis who clarified that interested parties must first obtain a 125cc licence, then a licence with which they can ride a 400cc motorcycle and finally a licence without a cubic restriction.
Special reference was made to delivery men who drive on a student licence, which is considered dangerous. There was a feeling in the bystander position that someone who has been driving on a student licence even for several years doesn’t know how to drive, so he has to go through classes.
It is noted that every year the state collects hundreds of thousands of euros from the issue and/or renewal of marketing authorisations. Many of the drivers because they do not intend to switch to a higher category have never attempted to obtain a normal licence, since they did not need them.
Traffic cameras by early next year, increased narco-tests and harsher penalties for driving offences are just some of the measures being introduced with the aim of reducing road deaths by 50 per cent.
Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos chaired a road safety council meeting on Wednesday, attended by Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis, and set out the plan for the period 2021-2030.
The central focus includes traffic cameras and a general review of the current traffic laws.
Traffic cameras are seen as a key tool in reducing yearly road fatalities. Karousos said that evaluation of the tenders for the cameras will be completed by the end of September.
Karousos set the timeframe for the installation of traffic cameras to begin in the first two months of 2021 – provided there are no appeals during the tenders’ process.
Appeals are notorious for holding up public works projects for years, with one of the latest being the fallout of contracts awarded to bus companies.
Noting the severity of the situation on the roads, Karousos said that last year there were 52 road deaths.
“Each such deaths from traffic accidents costs the economy of our country about 3 million euros… [last year] the cost to the economy exceeded 150 million euros,” Karousos said.
But traffic cameras have an embattled history, with currently only two in operation throughout the entirety of the Republic.
Those two cameras alone have their work cut out, as they clocked over 87,500 traffic violations in five years from the period of 2014 to 2019.
A system of traffic cameras operated elsewhere for around 10 months from November 2006 until August 2007, but these were removed after disagreements with the supplier, and since then there have been several botched tenders’ procedures.
During those 10 months, 16 fixed traffic cameras and seven mobile ones recorded around 165,000 violations, though the real number was in fact much higher as for various reasons the system was unable to process roughly 30 per cent of violations.
The transport ministry in 2019 set a target of having 90 fixed cameras in place by 2022 with a further 20 mobile units in use.
While the announcement was thin on specifics, Yiolitis said that: “Some of the actions that will be carried out are the doubling of narcotics tests and the better policing by the traffic police of the municipalities.”
Another prong against troublesome drivers will come into effect on October 1, as traffic violations are set to be punished with greater severity.
Deputies voted in July for an overhaul to reckless driving penalties which, in general, sees the doubling of fines for repeat offences committed within two to three years.
The focus for many has been reckless driving but it appears the government has also set its sights on the lax adherence to parking rules by Cypriot drivers.
The minister said that there will be “zero tolerance for illegal parking”.
It is unclear how such a policy will be enforced, as throughout the island pedestrians are plagued by pavements clogged up with illegally parked cars. In a number of photos to have gone viral online, police cars were also apparently parked illegally.
In September 2019, a wheelchair user was forced onto the road and killed in a car accident because cars were parked on the pavement.
Cyprus is amongst the EU countries with the least safe roads, according to figures released in July by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).
While Sweden has the safest roads, with 25 road deaths per million people, the UK is second with 28 and Cyprus is ranked at number 20 with 62. Romania, however, has the worst record, with 99 fatalities per million inhabitants.
Total registrations of motor vehicles in August edged down an annual 1% to total 3217. Passenger saloon cars recorded a bigger annual drop of 2.8% to 2,560 the Cyprus statistical service said on Tuesday.
Overall, for the period January-August the total registrations of motor vehicles plummeted 20.3% to 24,969 from 31,336 in the same period the previous year.
Passenger saloon cars slumped to 19,423 from 25,450, recording a fall of 23.7%. Of the total passenger saloon cars, 6.822 or 35.1% were new and 12,601 or 64,9% were used cars.
Goods conveyance vehicles fell by 17.7% to 2,988 from 3,632 in January-August 2019. In particular, light goods vehicles decreased by 19.0% to 2.523, heavy goods vehicles by 8.0% to 357 and road tractors (units of trailers) by 16.3% to 108.
Mopeds (up to 50cc) were down by 32.6% to 128 from 190 in the corresponding period of the previous year while motorbikes of more than 50cc increased to 1932 in January-August 2020, compared to 1654 in the same period in 2019, recording an increase of 16.8%.
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