Police said on Sunday they would be launching a two-week road safety campaign focused on clamping down on motorists using mobile phones or engaged in other activities such as eating while driving.
The two-week campaign starts Monday and is due to end on Sunday, September 27.
“Using a mobile phone and other objects while driving distracts drivers,” a police statement said.
It said driver distraction was one of the biggest factors that increases the likelihood of being involved in a traffic collision as it reduces a driver’s reaction time in the event of an accident.
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%.
A study for a four-lane motorway between Evrychou and Astromeritis has been handed over to the public works department in a bid to get the project started that is designed to ease traffic congestion in the area, reports said Thursday.
The road, which has been in the works for 50 years, will be a 12.9 km stretch of highway costing €70 million, and is expected to be completed by 2023, once it is licensed.
Another stretch of motorway from Akaki to Astromeritis is scheduled to begin as soon as the first 12.9 km is completed.
The Akaki-Astromeritis motorway is planned to stretch 19 km and finish by 2026. It will cost approximately €130 million in total including a roundabout.
The government has been pushing for this plan as 41,000 cars are estimated to travel on the road every day. They believe it will increase safety on the roads in the rural Nicosia area and better connect the villages of that area to the capital.
The motorway is planned as an extension of the Nicosia-Kokkinotrimithia-Astromeritis road. A roundabout is in the plans for the end of the motorway close to Evrychou.
In the environmental studies, part of the road is planned to cut through a protected Natura 2000 area in ‘Atsa- Ayios Theodoros’.
However, since the political decision for the road’s construction was made, the government is planning to promote it as a public interest project to better the quality of life, despite cutting through the Natura area.
A public works letter in 2019 said there was no need to examine alternative scenarios, as the decision for the motorway’s construction has been made.
The police said on Tuesday it will modify a decree currently in force banning certain types of motorcycles from the roads during the holiday season, relaxing the previous restrictions.
The decision came after a lengthy meeting between the police chief and representatives of the Cyprus Motorcycle Federation (CMF) and owners of motorcycle rental businesses.
The revised decree eases the restrictions in force since August 13 and valid until August 30 – but the CMF came out of the meeting unsatisfied, saying the regulations still discriminate among drivers and fail to address the problem of noise nuisance on the roads.
Speaking to the media later, CMF representative Athos Efstathiou said they still disagree with the revised decree as it continues to impose double standards.
“Sadly the police don’t realise the problem of deprivation of liberty and discrimination…” he said.
“Separating users of the road grid into good and bad drivers, according to the vehicle and its type, is a major mistake that can only cause problems.”
Efstathiou said bikers would be consulting their lawyers on the possibility of challenging the decree in the courts, on the grounds of discrimination.
He argued that because current laws contain loopholes, and the police are unable to properly enforce measures to combat noise nuisance, authorities are trying to paper over the problem with sweeping decrees.
A representative for the association of rental motorcycles said they were exempt on the grounds that the restrictions would have decimated their business, already hit hard by the slump in tourist rentals, owing to the coronavirus situation.
Under the amended decree, the restrictions on the movement on motorcycles and quadbikes over 125cc now apply only on August 22, 23, 29 and 30, for the same roads designated in the initial decree.
The time slot for the restrictions has also been reduced, and made uniform across the cities – from 1am to 4am on the designated days.
Now also exempt from the restrictions are rental motorcycles; previously food delivery bikes had been exempt, and they continue to be.
The initial decree had banned the movement in Nicosia for 125cc motorbikes on August 16, 23 and 30 between midnight and 5am from Griva Digeni Avenue from the junction with Archangelos Avenue and Ayios Prokopios street up to junction with Themistoklis Dervis street and on Prodromou Avenue, from its junction with the Red Cross up to its junction with Grivas Digenis Avenue.
In Limassol, the initial ban concerned the coastal road that includes the Spyrou Araouzou, October 28th, Promachonas Eleftherias, Georgiou A and Amathountos streets, on August 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30 between 7pm and 4am.
For Paphos, the ban initially related to Poseidonos Avenue between 8pm and 4am on August 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30.
For the Famagusta district, the decree originally banned movement between 8pm and 4am from Protaras road – the road where the hotels are located – and from the Nissi and Archbishop Makarios Avenue in Ayia Napa.
Traffic violations are set to become steeper and tougher starting October 1, after deputies voted on Friday a set of bills into law and approved regulations aimed at tackling irresponsible driving.
With an overwhelming majority, plenum voted in favour with two against, the laws and regulations aiming for road safety and a decrease in Cyprus’ high number of road deaths and serious injuries.
Based on the new rules, driving without a seatbelt or while using their mobile phone, the fine is €150 the first time around. Repeat offenders within a three-year period will see the fine doubled.
Driving without a helmet carries a €200 fine which shoots up to €400 if someone is caught again in the space of three years after their first fine.
Someone speeding is fined €1 for every km/h they are going above the speed limit up to 30 per cent of the speed limit. If the speed limit is exceeded between 31 and 50 per cent, the fine is €2 per exceeded km/h and for 51 to 75 per cent of the speed limit, the fine is €3 per exceeded km/h.
An individual drunk driving and speeding up to 75 per cent of the speed limit with their alcohol level up to 70μg/100ml can be issued two separate fines.
Overtaking where it is not permitted carries a €150 fine. The number is increased to €200 if someone overtakes on a pedestrian crossing.
Parking at a disabled parking is fined at €300
Fleeing a scene after an accident without offering help will constitute an offence which will carry a sentence.
During the holidays, however, there are also various unforeseen incidents, some serious and not so much, but we also need to ask for help for them.
It is therefore useful to know some important contact numbers with the Police, in the area where we will be, so that in case we need to call for help, receive some advice or make a complaint, we can immediately contact either the local Police Station or the Police Directorate of the Province where we will be.
Relevant information on the contact numbers of the local Police Stations by Province, are published in the online link http://www.cypruspolicenews.com/police_stations, on the website of the Police www.cypruspolicenews.com. In addition to the telephone numbers, information is published about the address of the Police Stations, as well as about the areas of Municipalities and Communities, which are policed by each Police Station.
The contact numbers with the Police Directorates of the Provinces are as follows:
Famagusta Province: 23-803030
Larnaca Province: 24-804040
Limassol Province: 25-805050
Paphos Province: 26-806060
Morfos Area: 22-802525
Nicosia Province: 22-802020
The following numbers operate on a Cyprus-wide basis:
Cyprus Citizen’s Contact Line – 1460
Police Emergency – 112 or 199
A cyprus registration plate control campaign will be carried out by the Police on the control of registration plates for motor vehicles.
The campaign will begin on July 27, 2020 and continue until August 2, 2020. The aim of the campaign is to ensure proper compliance with the provisions governing the specifications of motor vehicle registration plates and the obligations of vehicle drivers, as contained in the Motor Vehicle Regulation.
© Reuters/POOL FILE PHOTO: Weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin
By Markus Wacket
BERLIN (Reuters) – German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer aims to clear the way for an almost blanket motorway toll for cars across Germany and Europe during the country’s presidency of the European Union, a draft document seen by Reuters on Wednesday showed.
Within eight years, almost all vehicles on motorways, including lorries, vans and cars, would have to pay tolls, according to the draft for the EU toll directive.
“As regards member states that have already established a charging system, tolls or user charges shall be levied upon all vehicles except coaches and buses,” stated the document which Scheuer wants German ministries to approve on Wednesday.
That would make it Germany’s official proposal for its presidency of the bloc which started on July 1 and runs until the end of the year.
However, some government officials told Reuters that some German ministries wanted to put the project on ice even though a distance-based toll is widely seen as a measure to help protect the climate.
It is particularly sensitive for ministries headed by the Social Democrats (SPD), who share power with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and have long been critical of car tolls.
(Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Michelle Martin)
A car that had been customised by its owner was destroyed on Wednesday on the orders of the Larnaca district court after it ruled that the changes made to the vehicle were illegal.
The car was seized last December after a routine traffic check in Larnaca when its 27-year-old owner was found to be driving while his licence was revoked and with no insurance.
During a check of the vehicle, police found out that it had undergone several mechanical conversions such as an engine change without the permission from the road transport department. The vehicle’s frame where the chassis number was located had been cut and welded anew, and as a result, it was not possible to prove the car’s identity. It was therefore deemed unfit to run, police said.
The Larnaca district court ordered the vehicle’s destruction on June 11 citing the illegal conversions made and the imprisonment of the owner for 30 days, among other things.
“The vehicle was transported today to an approved site of destruction of old vehicles where the court decree was executed,” police said.
The driver was sentenced to 30 days in prison and his licence was revoked for four months after he was found guilty of driving while his licence was revoked, with no insurance and for the changes he had made to the car.