By Angelos Anastasiou
A PAIR of speed cameras on Engomi’s Grivas Dhigenis avenue became officially operational and started recording violations at midnight on Sunday, with the first offenders caught and due to receive a ticket.
Following a staggering 1,800 traffic violations recorded in a 24-hour test run last week, the strategically placed cameras overlooking a patch used regularly as a racing strip by speeding youngsters went live on Monday with 74 speed violations recorded during the first few hours of operation. The cameras cover the area from the Metochi junction traffic lights to Engomi’s McDonalds traffic lights.
The speed cameras are one of two measures being taken to stop the avenue being used as a makeshift racetrack. New asphalt to create elongated speed bumps will be laid on the part of the avenue not covered by the cameras, from McDonalds’ traffic lights to the Kolokasides round-about. The government plans to invite tenders for the work to ensure the speed bumps are in place by the end of June.
“We hope that the speed cameras and the four speed bumps – two per lane – will resolve the racing problem,” Demetris Demetriou, chief of the traffic department, said on Monday.
The speed limit on Griva Dhigeni avenue is 50 km/h as it runs through a residential area that has long suffered noise pollution and increased accident rates caused by racing drivers.
The cameras will photograph the back of the car exceeding the speed limit, so that the vehicle’s registration number is clearly visible but no rights to privacy are infringed – that is, the identity of the driver or any passenger will not be captured. Only speed-limit violations will be recorded – as opposed to other traffic violations such as not wearing a seatbelt or using a mobile phone while driving.
This means, the ticket will be mailed to the vehicle’s legal owner, irrespective of who might have been driving the car when the offence was recorded.
While the newly-installed camera system is run by police officers, this will not be case with the new island-wide camera network that is slated to be operational by early 2015.
The communications ministry plans to invite tenders by July, so that the new system is fully functional by February 2015.
With the exception of the two cameras on Grivas Dhigenis avenue, the traffic camera network will be run by a private contractor, who would notify police of any violations recorded so that a ticket is issued.
The privately set up and run network model was chosen so as to avoid incurring cost to taxpayers.
Installing traffic cameras dates back almost a decade. After heated debates, mainly focused on personal data protection, a network was set up in 2006 but was quickly discarded. The cameras had numerous problems, including a failure to store photographs and extensive bureaucracy that in some cases resulted in fining a person twice for the same violation while letting others go unpunished.
By Angelos Anastasiou