Eight traffic cameras — four fixed and four mobile — will go into operation by the end of October for the pilot phase of a long-awaited traffic camera system authorities hope will lead to a significant reduction in road accidents.
“The main aim of the project is to prevent and reduce deaths and injuries as a result of traffic collisions,” Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos told reporters after being briefed on progress so far.
When a previous system was in operation at 12 locations, road collisions were slashed by 53.57 per cent, he said. “With the installation of the traffic camera system we expect to improve road safety especially in urban centres where the majority of road collisions occur.”
Karousos first visited the centre for the automated traffic violation monitoring and reporting system which will process the data, and then went to a busy Nicosia junction where traffic cameras will soon be in operation.
Violations recorded by the system will be collected at the centre from where notifications will be sent to traffic offenders under the supervision of police. The agreement is for 90 fixed cameras at 30 traffic blackspots islandwide and another 20 mobile cameras for speeding for which police will decide the location and hours of operation on a daily basis.
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.
The project will be introduced in three phases. The pilot phase covers the four fixed and four mobile cameras and all the equipment for the centre. Phase one covers the installation and operation of another 16 mobile and 20 fixed cameras and phase two the remaining 66 fixed cameras.
The timeline for the pilot phase is the end of October. It will operate on a trial basis for up to three months. Phase one should be up and running in July 2022 and phase three in June 2023. The contractor will maintain and operate the system for five years under the supervision of the police. No fines will be issued for the first 30 days, but offenders will receive warning letters.
The €34m project comes 15 years after a first attempt at a traffic camera system was ditched among legal and technical difficulties.
Traffic cameras will go on trial operation for a three-month period in late October, ahead of the long-awaited introduction of a system authorities hope will be instrumental in improving road safety, a senior official told the House transport committee on Thursday.
Markos Markou, acting head of the department of electro-mechanical services, said the cameras will record speeding, red light violations, crossing the waiting line at traffic lights, failure to wear a seatbelt and use of a mobile phone.
He said the system will be handed over for a three-month trial run in late October. A total of 20 fixed cameras and 16 mobile ones will be in operation in the first six months, with another 66 installed over the six months that follow.
The system will cost €8m to install and €35m to operate over five years. Those caught will receive an out-of-court fine by registered mail and a code giving them access to a photograph of their traffic violation.
If the vehicle is being driven by someone other than the owner, then the latter will have to say who was driving.
Authorities hope the system will slash traffic collisions by half and lead to a significant drop in the number of road fatalities.
Committee chairman Marinos Moushouttas, a Dipa MP, said that with the trial operation set to start in late October, the required legislation must be approved by then.
“I believe from what I have heard so far that we are very close and with goodwill, we will be able in a month the latest to submit the bill to the plenary for approval, depending on what amendments may be made,” he said.
But he said it was ‘paradoxical’ that the government had signed the contract with the contractor before the law had been approved.
Moushouttas said the aim was, by punishing violations, to stem the loss of life on the roads.
“The committee will not place any obstacles to this effort, but we will support and act as allies so that the system operates the soonest possible,” he said.
Disy MP Photini Tsiridou welcomed the installation of a system which will help reduce road collisions. MPs were keen to promote prevention and this initiative was in the right direction, she said.
Tsiridou welcomed the speed with which the ministry had reached agreement with a contactor, adding that parliament would, even under pressure, do whatever it could to support the executive to protect society.
Akel MP Yiannakis Gavriel said the system would contribute to preventing collisions but warned it should not be turned into a tax collection weapon with steep fines. And he criticised the government for signing the contract before the bills and regulations had been submitted to parliament.
Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos on Tuesday inspected the site on a busy Nicosia junction where the first four speed cameras are to be installed, as part of a project that will go into operation in October.
Karousos was at the first site where the traffic cameras system will be installed in Nicosia at the crossing of Griva Digenis avenue and Dimosthenes Severis avenue.
According to his post on Twitter, he went to the site with the director of the department of electrical and mechanical Services, Markos Markou for an assessment of the installation.
Επιθεωρήσαμε με τον Δ/ντή του Τμ. ΗΥ, το 1ο σημείο όπου θα εγκατασταθεί το σύστημα φωτοεπισήμανσης στη Λευκωσία. Το σύστημα θα λειτουργήσει τον Οκτώβριο και οι πρώτες τέσσερις σταθερές κάμερες θα εγκατασταθούν στη διασταύρωση της λεωφ.Γρίβα Διγενή με τη λεωφ. Δημ.Σεβέρη. #MCW pic.twitter.com/nBqikaK4nv
— Yiannis Karousos (@yianniskarousos) August 31, 2021
The €34 million project will be introduced in three phases and will see the company install 90 fixed cameras at 30 locations, to monitor red light and stop sign violations, as well as speeding. Another 20 mobile units will be deployed by the police during targeted campaigns or in rural areas
Police booked 41 drivers and made three arrests during a road safety campaign in the Polis Chrysochous area on Thursday night, the Cyprus News Agency reported on Friday.
It said that more than 20 police officers took part in the campaign from 7.00 pm to 1.00 am. Police reported 41 traffic violations and arrested three persons aged 38, 24 and 28, for illegal residence in the Republic.
Of the 41 traffic violations, eight concerned speeding, six for car windows with restricted visibility, one for tampering with the bodywork, one for not wearing a seat belt, two concerned driving with free hands, one for not wearing a helmet, three for not having a licence plate, two for using immobilised cars, one for driving with worn tyres, two for driving without road tax and one for driving a car that had been removed from the register.
In addition, one driver was reported for driving without a driver’s licence, two for driving without insurance and 10 for other traffic offences.
Police also carried out checks at business premises in Polis and Latchi and reported two for breaking the coronavirus protocols.
After 15 years of technical and legal setbacks, Cyprus is set to reintroduce traffic cameras in a test capacity in October, even though legislation for their operation has not yet been passed by the House.
The project costing €34 million in three phases will see the company install 90 fixed cameras at 30 locations, to monitor red light and stop sign violations, as well as for speeding. Another 20 mobile units will be deployed by the police during targeted campaigns or in rural areas.
Authorities are proceeding full-speed ahead with installing the system even though the legislation has still not been passed by the House.
Haris Evripidou deputy head and spokesman for traffic police headquarters in Nicosia told the Cyprus Mail going ahead with the installation was a contractual obligation.
“There is a contract with Conduent State and Local Solutions Inc. A term of the contract demands that the company must be fully prepared for the implementation of the system,” he said.
“For this reason, the testing of the system that will be carried out has absolute legal coverage even though the bill has not yet passed the House. The cameras must be operational by October 25, 2021,” he added.
Evripidou said both the company and police have already started training the staff, and all of the necessary equipment has arrived in Cyprus, he said.
Dedicated operators will be responsible for handling and operating the new cameras, and experts were in Cyprus last month to kick-start the process.
“All procedures are on schedule, and it is expected that the pilot phase of the system will be ready soon. The equipment concerns 90 fixed and 20 mobile cameras,” Evripidou added.
Evripidou said that in some areas, such as Famagusta, there would only be mobile cameras. “I consider mobile cameras as more effective because they force drivers to be careful everywhere [they go]. The area of Famagusta is ‘empty’ for about six months in a year as tourist arrivals are low in the winter. Permanent cameras are not necessary since the policy is to place them within the cities where fatal accidents happen,” said Evripidou.
As an EU member, Cyprus has one of the worst road accident death rates per population in Europe. Thus, it has adopted the European target of 50 per cent reduction in road fatalities and a 50 per cent reduction in serious injuries by 2030.
The overall plan consists of 158 specific actions including, among others, the introduction of a photo-enforcement system to better identify motorists violating rules and the improvement of the lighting system in urban centres, where most accidents take place.
A traffic-cams network was set up in 2006 but was quickly discarded. The cameras had numerous problems, including failure to store photographs, and extensive bureaucracy that in some cases resulted in fining a person twice for the same violation while letting others go unpunished.
The cameras were disabled in 2007 and in 2008 it was announced that new cameras would be put up by 2010. In 2011 the Tender Review Board challenged the specifications outlined in the process and cancelled the government’s plan for the fifth time. Failing to find a way of effectively setting up the system, the government decided to outsource the venture to a private firm. The company that has been chosen will install the cameras and be responsible for their functionality over those five years.
Commenting on the many years of delays, Evripidou said: “From the first moment, we were in favour of the system. Some problems with the legislation and the bureaucracy forced the suspension of the project. One issue that still exists is that the old cameras have not been removed. I believe this will happen soon,” he said.
“Despite the reduction or stability that Cyprus has shown in car accidents in recent years, the truth is that if the camera system had been implemented, an even greater reduction would probably have been recorded,” he added.
Police booked 21,000 people for speeding in the last two months, traffic police data published on Friday showed.
The data, covering the period between March 24 and May 24, showed that speed was the main traffic violation during that period nationwide, followed by traffic signal violations with 3,300 fines.
Another 1,320 people were booked for driving while holding a mobile phone or another object, and 1,100 fines were issued for those who failed to wear a seatbelt or a safety helmet.
Traffic officers also booked 770 vehicles for illegal parking, 93 drivers for parking in a disabled parking spot and 212 drivers for running a red light.
The data showed that 70 per cent of the people tested for drugs showed a positive result, with 280 positive narcotests after 402 checks.
Eighteen people refused to give a sample. In that case, people are charged in writing and are referred to the court, police said.
Transport minister Yiannis Karousos and Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis attended an urgent meeting on road safety on Wednesday after six motorcyclists died in accidents this year.
At the meeting, it was stated that motorcyclists are 14 times more likely to be involved in traffic accidents.
Karousos and Yiolitis said that they have been in contact with various motorcycle groups, hearing their views on how to reduce the high number of deaths.
As part of their consultations, safety advice on how to avoid collisions with motorcyclists will be added to the process while obtaining a driver’s licence.
Additionally, a proposal was made for a full driver’s licence to be required to operate a motorcycle – as currently a learner’s licence is sufficient to drive one for work purposes.
Yiolitis also said that vehicle inspections will be increased.
Road accidents fell 20 per cent between 2010 and 2020 in Cyprus, data released by the statistical service (Cystat) said on Wednesday.
According to an infographic on road transport and road accidents published in Cystat’s website the number of people killed on the roads fell by 20 per cent, from 60 in 2010 to 48 in 2020.
Even though two-wheelers constitute only 5.3 per cent of all licensed vehicles, they accounted for 31.3 per cent the fatalities in 2020.
At the same time, people over 60 years of age made up 45.8 per cent of those killed in 2020.
According to Cystat the registrations of motor vehicles during the period 2010-2020 ranged between 18,567 in 2013 and 49,450 in 2018.
The share of new vehicles in total registrations shows a downward trend. New vehicles constituted 38.03 per cent of total registrations in 2020 compared to 50.86 per cent in 2010.
In 2010 registrations of hybrid vehicles constituted only 0.43 per cent of total registrations whereas in 2020 this share reached 5.96 per cent.
The proportion of registrations of gasoline vehicles has dropped, while the proportion of diesel vehicles has increased.
In particular, in 2020 registrations of gasoline vehicles constituted 48.52 per cent of the total and of diesel vehicles 44.84 per cent, compared to 68.90 per cent and 30.64 per cent respectively in 2010.
The most common colour of motor vehicles registered in 2020 was white (35.24 per cent).
The number of licensed vehicles in 2020 was 759,268, of which 578,158 were passenger saloon cars.
Also, the average age of licensed passenger cars in 2020 was 13.2 years.
The transport ministry has signed a contract to upgrade a section of the old road from Paphos to Limassol near Petra tou Romiou, it announced on Thursday.
According to the contract which was signed by the public works department and Lambrou and Poutziouris construction company a 200-metre stretch of the road will be under construction for five months, starting from mid-May, at a cost of €740,000.
The project includes the erection of electricity poles, the construction of a retaining wall on the north side of the road, laying asphalt – preparing the sub base and installing a new surface – and work on a rainwater management system.
Tourists will be able to move around without sending an SMS, just with a special form, but they are not exempt from the measures that apply for everyone else, an official within the tourism industry clarified on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day a source had said the form would allow tourists to move around freely from 6am to 11pm with a form, called ‘declaration of movement’ to be provided by their travel agents or the hotels they are staying in as confirmation to be allowed to go out.
Director General of Cyprus Hotel Association (Pasyxe) Philokypros Roussounides clarified later in the day that the form will be given only in cases where tourists are unable to send an SMS, but they too will be subject to the restriction of two outings per day.
At the moment, residents are allowed only two outings per day up to three hours each and three on weekends. To do so they must obtain permission by sending an SMS to 8998.
Though people with a foreign mobile telephony provider may call a number for permission to go out, Roussounides said the introduction of the form was decided because there might be technical difficulties in having tourists sending SMSs.
The document will be used in the place of the SMS, in cases tourists are not able to send an SMS, he said.
Roussounides clarified that the form will be used to justify tourists’ outings and that they too are restricted to two outings per day.