By Annette Chrysostomou
DURING the past 15 years 34,826 people were severely or lightly injured in road accidents in Cyprus, according to the chairman of the NGO REACTION and Vice President of the Pan-European Youth Forum for Road Safety, Marios Stavrou.
On Wednesday, members of REACTION paid a visit to people who were injured in road collisions and hospitalised in Nicosia general. They were accompanied by the Australian High Commissioner in Cyprus, members of the volunteer commission, the Cyprus race car association and other officials.
The aim of the visit, according to the chairman of REACTION, was to show solidarity to people in hospital at this time of the year because of road collisions.
“Some of them struggle hard to live while others are trying to recover after a road accident,” Stavrou said. “We as an organisation and all who are with us today express our sympathy to the families and wish the injured a speedy recovery.”
“In 2014 alone, three people were injured every day on average in road accidents and if we look at the average per day since 2000, we have had six people a day injured in road crashes.”
“There is a steady decline in injuries, and if we consider that in 2014 we had a decrease of 54 per cent compared to 2000, that is we had 549 fewer seriously injured, things are much, much better,” he added.
Stavrou expressed the need to support government departments involved in the management of road accidents and the need for investment in people and technology for the police, the fire brigade, ambulances and hospital services, which should not be left understaffed due to the economic crisis.
“When a traffic collision happens time counts for the severely injured, so all services should have the ability to respond immediately. Also, we call once again as an organisation and as citizens of the Republic of Cyprus on the ministry of health and the parliament to speed up the expansion of the ambulance call control centre throughout Cyprus,” he said.
“It is unacceptable for a European country and one so small, that such a centre which is a given for other countries only covers two districts. The new centre set up recently as yet only covers the Nicosia and Famagusta districts.
The High Commissioner of Australia in Cyprus Alan Sweetman said that every year, around the world, there was an increase in road collisions during the Christmas period, most often involving drunk and tired drivers, plus there was more traffic on roads, he said.
“Please do not drink and drive. Think of your loved ones who are waiting at home. Do not speed. Always wear your seatbelt. Turn off the mobile phone while driving. Sharing the road with your fellow drivers, be polite and safe drivers. Do not park on sidewalks as you run errands last minute – obstructing the accessibility of the public,” was his message.
In addition to the hundreds of people injured on the roads, 56 lost their lives in car accidents in 2015.