By Maria Gregoriou
A PROGRAMME to teach third country nationals (TCNs) the correct way to drive on Cypriot roads has not only improved their driving skills but also helped to ensure their smoother integration into Cypriot society, organisers said yesterday.
The project, called ‘different country – different driving’, began on January 1 and ends on Sunday and included 125 TCNs from all over Cyprus.
The PR and advertising company, Marketway ran the project which is part of the immigrant integration programme of the interior ministry.
The main goal of the project was to integrate TCNs and encourage their participation in social and public life in Cyprus in addition to developing their understanding of local road safety procedures.
“The central axis of the project was to train TCNs on the road traffic rules in Cyprus for car and motorbike driver, bicycle riders and pedestrians,” said business development executive from Marketway, Romeos Bratskos.
Theory seminars and driving lessons were given in Nicosia, Larnaca, Famagusta, Paphos and Limassol.
Research shows that most TCNs reside in Nicosia and they are mainly men. “This is where we focused on more because Nicosia has a higher population anyway and because mainly men drive cars or motorbikes,” Bratskos said.
Information was also given out in public parks in Nicosia, Larnaca and Paphos where many TCNs get together on Sundays.
“Powerpoint slides were used in the seminars to show participants how to act correctly while on the road and during practical lessons they were given live examples of how mistreating the road safety law can affect their own safety and the safety of society as a whole,” Bratskos said.
Bratskos gave an example by saying that drivers were called on their mobile phone and told to park the car while talking. It took them at least 15 minutes, he said, and by having a hands-on experience, they were able to understand the need for following the road traffic code.
The lack of information leaflets or events to do with road safety in English was also a factor in running the programme.
“All road safety campaigns are done in Greek and TCNs are therefore excluded from these. That was a main reason in creating the programme geared especially for these individuals,” Bratskos said.
Bratskos said the programme was a success “because Cypriot society has shown a direct interest in their safety and health and because the instructors giving the training treated them as friends, they managed to get a feeling of society and of Cypriot people”.
Bratskos added that by learning how to drive according to Cypriot road safety rules, third country nationals would be the cause of fewer accidents which in turn helps to eradicate racism.
“This is a very important factor considering the recent toll of road accidents and deaths,” he said.
From 1 January until 28 June there have been 20 fatal road accidents and 22 road deaths.
Halkos driving school in Nicosia gave the practical lessons and the theory seminars were given by Reaction, the youth organisation for road safety.