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.
Cyprus’ only traffic cameras, operating on a small strip of Nicosia’s Grivas Digenis avenue, recorded over 87,500 traffic violations in five years, though only some 75,500 fines were issued.
Since June 2014 when the two cameras were first installed until May this year, they recorded a total of 87,534 speed violations. Of those, 75,569 fines were issued, with the remaining 11,965 violations being dismissed.
That some fines were dismissed was mostly because of protests by serial speeders who claimed that they had amassed numerous speeding violations without realising it because it took so long for the first fine to be issued. Around 5 per cent (4,139) of the dismissed fines involved vehicles of the UN, the Greek army contingent Eldyk, diplomats and the police.
Protests by drivers also led the road safety council to increase the speed limit on the specific strip from 50km/h to 65km/h some months after the cameras were installed, with the cameras clocking drivers driving over 70km/h.
In June 2014, their first month of operation, the cameras recorded 14,375 traffic violations. By August this had dropped to 10,359 violations while September saw 6,185. From January 2016 until May this year, this had fallen much further averaging at about 750 speeding violations a month.
Revenues from fines issued since June 2014 have amounted to €2.18m.
A system of traffic cameras operated elsewhere for around 10 months, from November 2006 until August 2007, but 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.
In July, transport minister Vassiliki Anastassiadou said that fresh tenders are to be launched for the installation of a full system of traffic cameras by 2022, while mobile cameras are planned to hit the roads as of next year.
By 2022, the minister said 90 fixed cameras would be in place at accident black spots, and 20 mobile units would also be in use.
After years of delays, the latest one was said to be due to the ministry’s decision to choose a more sophisticated system, which can photograph vehicles from the front and back.
As well as recording speed, they will also be able to check for other violations such as not wearing a seatbelt, talking on the phone while driving, driving through a red light and crossing the white line at the traffic lights.
A 3km stretch of the Nicosia- Limassol highway will be closed for two weeks starting from Monday for maintenance works, the Department of Public works announced said on Friday.
Works will be carried out from Zigi until Germasogia exit from 20.30 to 6.00.
Traffic will be diverted to the adjacent lane for the duration, the announcement said.
The department also announced that part of Nicosia’s Kallipoleos avenue form its crossing with Chalkidonos to Ethnikis Frouras street will be closed on Saturday due to road works.
Traffic will be directed to Ypatias, Eyagora Pallikaridi and Ethnikis Frouras street.
The department apologised for the inconvenience and asked drivers and pedestrians to follow traffic signs.
Police have caught yet another minor driving, this time in the Paphos area on Wednesday evening.
The 15-year-old is the fifth youngster caught driving without a licence and insurance in the past three days.
He was stopped by traffic police who were conducting routine checks at 7pm.
His father was summoned to the police station to which the teenager was taken as he failed to take the necessary measures to prevent his son from driving.
Counting 29 road fatalities in the first eight months of the year – six in the past 11 days – police on Monday 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 the past 11 days.
Andreou said the force has repeatedly asked the state to increase penalties for traffic-related offences as a necessary deterrent.
“With the current arrangements, we have the disappointing state of affairs of having hundreds of checks and citations with thousands of violations and offenders without a change in behaviour,” he said.
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.
Traffic cameras have been another long-standing demand. Cameras were removed after being used for a few months in 2006, because of a dispute with the contractor, and since then there have been several tender procedures that were annulled. The latest process provides for the installation of cameras sometime in 2021.
“As the police, we emphasise the importance of putting traffic cameras in operation,” Andreou said. “Their contribution in reducing road collisions is proven internationally and in the brief period they were implemented in Cyprus they acted as a catalyst in limiting collisions by half.”
Pending the stricter penalties and cameras, instructions have been given for stronger police presence on the roads and stricter policing with emphasis on offences such as speeding, drink driving, use of mobile phone.
“The members of the police have been instructed by their superiors to be strict in enforcing the law regardless of displeasure and driver reaction,” Andreou said.
He said however, that police could not be left alone in this effort.
Andreou said the force conducted seminars at schools, army camps, and elsewhere but the effort must be reinforced with the contribution of organised groups, the state, families, and local societies.
So-called black spots on the road network were also recorded with the aim of making changes to reduce dangers. Police will also increase its presence in areas with a high frequency of traffic violations.
There have been 29 fatal road incidents so far this year, but August has seen a spike with six people killed in 11 days alone, four involving cars and two motorbikes.
A 74-year-old woman died from a neck injury on August 16 in the Ayios Ambrosios-Vouni area of Limassol after she crashed head on with a car driven by a 27-year-old woman.
A 40-year-old man died on August 19 after he lost control of his motorbike and crashed on the Palechori–Agros road.
A few days later Savvas Constantinou, a resident of Xylotymbou, was on the way to Agros when he apparently lost control of his bike, which crashed into the railing on the side of the road.
A 72-year-old woman was killed and a second one, 70, was in critical condition after the car they were travelling in fell into a ravine on the Kalopanayiotis to Gerakes road on August 21.
A collision of five cars in Limassol on August 24 left 75-year-old Savvas Charalambous dead and five more people injured, two of whom suffered serious injuries.
A 24-year-old motorcyclist, Bruk Mark Christodoulou, lost his life after his bike collided with a vehicle on a Nicosia road on Saturday night.
The death of Limassol resident Costas Petros Garposis, 71, whose car fell down a hillside in the Limassol region on August 25, is attributed to a heart attack.
Police on Monday arrested a 15-year-old male in Limassol on suspicion of possession of cannabis.
Officers on patrol spotted the 15-year-old in the driver’s seat of a car parked in an area of Limassol on Monday night.
As soon as he saw the officers, the youngster started the car and raced away. He was seen throwing a plastic bag containing a small amount of cannabis out of the window which police seized.
He managed to get away but was found shortly afterwards.
When he was questioned, he reportedly admitted to the possession of the illegal drugs and the traffic offences he had committed.
In Paphos meanwhile, police charged a 15-year-old and his father after the teen was caught driving a car. Police said they stopped a car driven by the 15-year-old boy just after midnight, while his father was in the passenger seat.
The father, who was not wearing a seatbelt, told police he was giving his son driving lessons and he was driving with his consent.
Both father and son were charged and will appear in court later.
A 17-year-old girl was found driving a car in Oroklini without a licence and insurance on Monday evening, police reported. Her father was in the vehicle and told police officers he allowed his daughter to drive. The girl was charged for driving without a licence and the father for allowing it.
The past 10 days saw six road deaths, police said on Sunday, issuing an urgent call for a change in the behaviour of drivers.
After two people – Bruk Mark Christodoulou, 24, and Savvas Charalambous, 75 – lost their lives on Cyprus roads on Saturday night, police issued a desperate call to alert the public that “it is imperative that we change our mentality and culture as regards our driving behaviour.”
The list of road accident victims is growing, the police said, stressing that we can no longer believe ourselves to be untouchable and beyond risk. “We must realise that danger lurks in every centimetre of distance we choose to cover with our car or motorbike.”
Road safety rules must be followed, police said, because it’s “a shame, it’s unfair, to lose human lives on roads.”
It added that it makes daily efforts toward improving road safety. The hundreds of reports made by the police against traffic offences may unnerve the public, but they only serve one goal: “to persuade drivers, through fear if need be, to comply with road safety rules.”
Among EU member states, Cyprus and Luxembourg had the lowest number of cyclists killed in road accidents in recent years, according to figures for 2017 released by Eurostat on Tuesday.
The highest rate is in Romania (10 deaths per million inhabitants) and the lowest rate is zero, recorded in Cyprus (2016 data) and Luxembourg. The EU average was 4 per million inhabitants.
The number of fatalities recorded in road traffic accidents in the EU is estimated to be around 25,000 in 2017, corresponding to 50 fatal accidents per million inhabitants. The annual number of deaths on EU roads has been around 25,000 since 2013, after a steady decline from 43,000 in 2007. In Cyprus, the numbers have also declined over the years, from 83 in 2008 to 53 in 2017.
Passenger car deaths accounted for almost half (46 per cent) of all fatal road accidents in 2017, followed by deaths of pedestrians (21 per cent), motorcyclists (15 per cent), bicyclists (8 per cent) and deaths involving other forms of road transport (10 per cent).
In the EU member states, Bulgaria ranks highest in the passenger car category with 64 deaths per million inhabitants (2016 data), which is almost six times the lowest rate, that of Malta (11, also 2016 data).
The rate of deaths among pedestrians in road traffic accidents is highest in Romania (37 deaths per million inhabitants) and lowest in Denmark (3).
Greece had the highest rate of fatalities in relation to motorcycle accidents (20 deaths per million inhabitants) in 2017. This contrasts with the situation in Bulgaria (2016 data) and Estonia, where the rate is zero.
According to Eurostat, the data have been extracted from the Care database (the Community database on road accidents resulting in death or injury). Care contains detailed data on individual accidents collected by the member states from police and hospital sources.
Tampering with the mileage of second-hand cars is at last coming to an end, the Cyprus Consumer Association announced on Monday.
According to the announcement, the customs department in a letter dated August 7 informed the association that it would soon include mandatory information regarding used cars which shows the number of kilometres clocked up by the vehicle.
The customs department will make its database available to the road transport department so the information is available when cars are being registered.
If the department finds the vehicle’s odometer has been interfered with, the car will not be registered.
The Consumer Association said tampering with the mileage is not just about misleading consumers in terms of purchase price and maintenance costs, but is also related to issues of road safety and environmental damage.
In a 2018 study on the manipulation of odometers in motor vehicles in the EU, the European Parliament said the practice is widespread in cars traded cross-border in the EU and is estimated to affect up to 50 per cent of cases.
“The total economic costs of odometer fraud in second-hand cars traded cross-border in the EU can be estimated to be at least €1.31 billion, with the most probable fraud rate scenario yielding €8.77 billion of economic loss,” the report says.
There are several reasons, it explains, the first being that the fraud is practically impossible to detect, as the manipulation does not leave any trace in a car’s electronic devices.
New cheap technologies allow easy and cheap tampering of odometers.
Second, the majority of car manufacturers do not install high security protection for odometers that could help strengthen anti-fraud prevention.
Third, many member states do not provide consumers with the necessary tools to enable them to check a second-hand car’s history.
Though odometer tampering is prohibited in most EU countries, sanctions vary, the report warns, and only in five member states can consumers access pre-purchase mileage information, Belgium, the UK, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden.