Almost one third of victims of fatal road accidents this year were under 25, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Monday at the launch of the annual police road safety week.
This year’s campaign motto is “On the road, the priority is life”. The campaign, organised by the police in cooperation with CNP Insurance, aims to raise awareness on road safety.
The justice ministry, Nicolaou said, “being greatly concerned” for the high levels of the number of road collisions in the country and despite the efforts made to raise awareness among drivers, “in consultation with the police and the education ministry decided on additional dynamic and targeted measures”.
“These measures are a new strategy, more decisive, to curb the increase in road collisions with the necessary dynamic interventions,” Nicolaou said.
Among the measures is the adoption of a new communication strategy on road safety aimed at educating, informing, training and raising public awareness, especially among young drivers, he said.
“Our goal is to transfuse the necessary messages to groups of drivers, such as young drivers, … to perceive and understand the impact of their driving behaviour,” Nicolaou said.
In addition, he said, there is progress as regards taking measures to substantially increase monitoring of traffic offences, such as the installation of traffic cameras in cooperation with the transport ministry, and the introduction of the narco test to detect and prevent driving under the influence of drugs.
He added that traffic controls would also increase, while another measure is the opening of a drivers’ school for those violating traffic laws.
“Human life is precious and I assure you that we will continue through a multifaceted, social and scientific approach to protect it in the context of a proper road safety awareness which will cultivate in every citizen the meaning of safe road transportation,” Nicolaou said.
Police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou said that this year, to-date, 37 road fatal road accidents occurred, with 38 people killed. These numbers, even though they present an around 20 per cent decrease compared to the equivalent period last year, “they are the result of human negligence, the result of irresponsible and reckless behaviour”.
“Our concern is to inform, raise awareness among the public on various aspects of road safety,” Chrysostomou said.
The police he said, have launched the procedures for setting up a scientific centre for road safety, which will be composed of academicians that will provide scientific support to the strategy and actions to be followed in matters of road safety.
He added that they are also evaluating the suggestions made by a University of Cyprus study on imposing harsher penalties, “so that they are truly deterrent”. The results of the study will be officially announced on Wednesday.