By Peter Stevenson
There has been an almost 40 per cent reduction in the number of traffic fines given out during the first ten months of the year according to statistics released by the police.
The major reduction has been attributed to Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou’s orders that officers treat the public more leniently in light of the financial crisis.
“It was deemed necessary during the financial crisis that our officers use their judgement in cases where lives were not being put at risk to let people off with just a warning,” police spokesman Andreas Angelides told the Cyprus Mail.
In the first nine months of last year a total of 204,955 fines were handed out while this year that number has decreased by 37 per cent, to 129,265. There has been an increase in fines handed out for drivers being over the alcohol limit.
According to statistics, drink driving has been the number one cause of road deaths in the last five years.
During the first ten months of 2013 a total of 6,546 drivers were fined for excessive alcohol consumption compared to 2,828 drivers who were fined last year for the same offence.
The biggest reduction in fines came for using mobile phones while driving according to the statistics. During the first ten months of 2012 a total of 22,909 drivers were fined for being on their mobile phones while driving while that figure has been more than halved during the corresponding period of this year to 10,677.
There was a reduction of 33 per cent in the number fined for speeding during the first ten months of 2013 compared to last year. Last year a total of 94,528 fines were handed out while this year 63,180 drivers were fined for speeding.
There was also a reduction of 45.5 per cent in the number of fines handed out to people who were not wearing seat belts. Last year the number of fines reached 22,807 while this year during the first ten months, 12,442 people were fined for not wearing a seatbelt.
There was an increase in the number of written cautions and warnings for drivers following Nicolaou’s instructions for more leniency from the police. A total of 3,000 cautions were handed out and more than 300 warnings were given.
Nicolaou’s instructions applied only to cases that did not involve excessive alcohol consumption or speeding, the two main causes of road accident fatalities.