The number of car thefts in Cyprus was on a par with Ireland per capita between 2015 and 2017 with 114 vehicles stolen per 100,000 of the population, according to Eurostat figures published on Monday.
On average from 2015 to 2017, the figures were highest in Luxembourg (328 police-recorded car thefts per 100,000 inhabitants), followed by Greece (269) and Italy (257).
There were slightly more thefts in Cyprus and Ireland (both 114) than in Portugal (109) and a little less than in Finland (123).
The lowest figures in the EU were observed in Slovakia and Estonia (both 31), Croatia (20), Romania (15) and Denmark (4) per 100,000.
Police in the EU recorded on average 697,000 car thefts yearly over the period 2015 to 2017, a 29 per cent reduction compared to the period from 2008 to 2010, when the yearly average was 983,000. Between 2008 and 2017, there were downward trends in most EU member states.
A total of 110 traffic cameras will be installed on the roads, hopefully by 2020, Police Chief Kypros Michaelides said on Saturday, a day after a shocking traffic violation was publicised online, in the wake of around 35 road deaths this year.
Michaelides was in Paphos for the town’s first-ever ‘Police Day’, said there would be 90 stationary cameras installed, along with another 20 mobile camera units to monitor traffic.
“We hope that with this attempt and with all the work of the Cyprus police, we will be in a place to announce there is an improvement in reducing traffic accidents,” Michaelides said.
Commenting on the nature of accidents on the road in the past year, Michaelides added: “The numbers on crashes, and especially the fatalities, may be way lower than last year but that doesn’t make us feel satisfied.”
Police are pulling out the stops to try and prevent any more deaths in the final two months of the year.
On Friday, a video circulated on social media of a man driving his truck on the Nicosia-Limassol motorway near Maroni with his feet up on the steering wheel.
The suspect, from Limassol, was identified by police on Friday. He was charged and released and will appear in court at a later date.
“It is thoughtless and dangerous driving, and he put in danger other people’s lives,” police said.
In August, police issued a dramatic appeal to politicians to put the necessary measures in place to stem the trend and force Cypriot drivers to comply with the code.
“Despite efforts, co-ordination, planning and anticipation of the possibility of an increase in road collisions, the expected level of prevention was not possible,” police spokesman Christos Andreou said after an emergency meeting of the force’s top brass including police chief Kypros Michaelides, convened after six died on the road in 11 days mid-August.
The government submitted bills introducing stricter penalties in March but for various reasons they have not yet been discussed by parliament.
Included in the bills is an increase in the fines for speeding from €1 per kilometre to €5 while using a phone while driving will fetch a €300 fine instead of the current €85.
Failure to wear a seatbelt will cost €400, also up from €85.
Not wearing crash helmets on motorcycles, running red lights, and parking on pedestrian crossings and spaces reserved for handicapped drivers will cost €200 from €85. Reckless driving that ends up causing bodily harm will be punishable with up to three years in jail and or a fine of up to €10,000.
Although Cyprus showed an initial decrease as Michaelides noted for 2019 and preliminary statistic calculations by the EU showed for 2018, the island had the highest increase in road deaths in 2017, according to the Road Safety PIN Report by the EU.
According to the report, the island recorded a 15 per cent increase in 2017, with 53 road deaths, seven more than in 2016.
In 2016, Cyprus had recorded its largest decrease in road deaths, at 19.3 per cent, while in 2015 there was another increase of 26.7 per cent.
Mortality rates are calculated in deaths per million inhabitants, with the report noting that annual deaths in Cyprus, and Estonia, are also relatively small, meaning they may be subject to annual fluctuations.
Due to the increase in 2017, Cyprus is now in 19th place on the scale of 23 countries, while in 2016 the island was in 13th following the decrease.
MPs support increased penalties for abandoning the scene of an accident but will whittle down proposed steep increases for traffic offences, Phileleftheros reported on Wednesday.
It said that the House Transport Committee had completed its discussion of seven new bills introducing stiffer penalties for traffic offences such as speeding and using a mobile phone while driving as part of efforts to stem the bloodshed on the road.
According to the newspaper, MPs agree with the principle but have reservations as to the extent of the increase. A final decision on the actual penalties is expected to be taken by each party before the bills go to the plenary for approval later this month or early in November.
MPs have indicated that fines should be proportionate to income levels. They argue that fines of €200 are excessive and are counter-proposing €120 to €150.
Police have long called for tougher fines which they say will work as a deterrent.
Phileleftheros said that MPs agree with a bill to tow away vehicles which obstruct or are parked on bends of main arteries and for these to remain impounded until all the fines and the towing costs are paid.
They also agree with a bill introducing tougher penalties for abandoning the scene of an accident.
A bill which give police the right to impound a vehicle when a driver is found to be drunk or speeding also appears to enjoy the support of MPs.
The reservations focus on a stiff hike in fines for traffic offences such as speeding, not wearing a seat belt or helmet and illegal parking.
The government’s proposal is for fines for failure to wear a seat belt or helmet to rise from €85 to €300 and 3 to 6 penalty points. The same penalties are proposed for using a mobile telephone while driving.
Jumping a red light would be punishable with a fine of €200, up from €85 plus 3 to 6 penalty points, up from 2-4.
Parking in a disabled spot and on pavements will carry a €150 fine, up from the current €85
AMENDMENTS to a 1999 law forbidding electric cars on highways are expected to be discussed by the House plenum in one of its coming sessions.
The matter emerged after Green Party leader Giorgos Perdikis was set to table a bill to amend the existing legislation before the plenum on Friday, only to find that an amendment proposal on the same issue was already submitted in June by Disy MP Demetris Demetriou and Diko MP Giorgos Prokopiou, with protocol dictating that a second proposal cannot be submitted until existing proposals on the matter are discussed.
As such, the law amendment proposal drafted by the two MPs is expected to be on the agenda of the plenum’s coming sessions.
According to the existing legislation, all cars powered solely by electricity (i.e not hybrids) are not allowed on highways where the minimum speed limit is 65km per hour. The law was passed in 1999 when small electric cars that circulated at the time were unable to surpass the minimum speed limit.
The number of electric cars on the island is on the rise, as from a total of just 34 electric cars registered in 2016, the figure rose to 87 in 2017 before rising higher to 135 in 2018. Significantly higher figures are being recorded for hybrid cars, which reached 4,418 in 2017.
Europe as a whole saw a surge of 30 per cent in electric car registrations between 2017 and 2018.
Diesel and petrol cars nevertheless continue to dominate the market, with the expensiveness of electric cars, with prices ranging from €22,000 to as high as €1m, that result from high manufacturing costs appearing to be the main hindering factor for potential buyers.
In Cyprus, means of transportation running on renewable energy sources amount to just 2.6 per cent of the island’s market, a figure EU targets wanted to see rising to 10 per cent by 2020, though prospects appear grim. Ireland, on the other hand, has set the aim to ban all conventional cars by 2030.
Some efforts to promote the use of electric cars have been made by the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), which installed E-charge stations for electric cars in 20 spots across the island – seven in Nicosia, five in Limassol, two in Larnaca, Paralimni and Paphos while Polis Chrysochous and Platres each have one station.
An EU programme also funded the installation of 12 additional charging stations for electric cars in Cyprus, while EU regulations will also require all parking spaces to provide charging stations as of 2020.
Experiments with electric cars began in the mid of 19th century after people started noticing the pollution from automobiles. Inventors attempted to create rechargeable batteries and introduced electric trams and trains. The first electric car was finally developed in 1890 and could reach 23km per hour but over the years, faded into oblivion until climate concerns began to take hold in recent decades.
Paphos police on Thursday evening arrested a man in connection with the possession of drugs, dangerous driving, failure to comply with a police signal and other traffic offences.
Around 11.20pm, officers patrolling in Peyia signaled for a quad bike to stop, but instead of stopping the 41-year-old driver picked up speed and tried to escape. His vehicle came to a stop when it collided with the patrol car.
He then tried to flee on foot but was stopped after a number of warning shots were fired in the air.
When he was searched a small amount of cannabis and three knives were found.
The man had no driving licence and was not insured.
As he refused to give a sample for a breathalyzer and a saliva sample for a narcotest he was arrested.
Paphos traffic wardens have entered a ‘new era’ of digital technology as state-of-the-art handheld devices will soon go into operation, the municipality said.
“The new equipment consists of small handheld computers and a printer that will be connected to the municipality’s computer system, as well as the GPS system for the immediate detection and recording of the location of any illegally parked vehicles,” a spokesman said.
The camera will record the vehicle’s licence plates which will then automatically identify the owner and issue any fines in a matter of seconds.
A meeting was held earlier this week at the Paphos municipal hall, in the presence of the mayor, Phedonas Phedonos where the ways of operating the new technology was discussed and explained.
“The representatives of the supply company also ran through all of the possibilities,” the spokesman added.
Using the new equipment, the municipality’s traffic wardens will become more efficient and productive in the performance of their duties, while also increasing the possibility of greater control by the local authority, he added.
The spokesman also pointed out that the new technology would help to prevent any allegations and discrepancies from complainants over past fines.
The legislation regulating bicycle use will be amended to include scooters, Transport Minister Vassiliki Anastassiadou said on Tuesday.
Speaking after a meeting called to assess the possibility of regulating the use of scooters, attended by the police, the commerce ministry, the department of road transport, and the president of the union of municipalities, Andreas Vyras, Anastassiadou said the law will include the specifications of permitted scooters and a minimum age for drivers.
Anastassiadou said that the minimum age for scooter driving may be set at 16, though this needs further deliberation, she said.
Further, while the law will outline areas in which scooter driving is allowed, local authorities will have the power to allow or forbid scooter use as they see fit, given they place the necessary signs to adequately inform the public.
Also important, Anastassiadou said, is that the law will foresee penalties in view of specified violations.
Participants in the meeting could not decide on whether the law will require scooter drivers to purchase insurance coverage, Anastassiadou said, noting that the matter will be resolved at a later stage.
She said the law amendment will be ready soon and will be sent to the legal service before being tabled before the plenum for voting.
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