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Our View: It might be time to rethink the speed limit

Photo: CNA

CYPRUS has the second highest rates of speed violations, behind Portugal in the EU, according to a report by the European Transport Security Council’s (ETSC) Road Safety PIN programme. The report found that 63 per cent of drivers violated the speed limit, just one percentage point less than the Portugal figure. Of course, it is difficult to make these comparisons considering that each country has a different speed limit.

For instance, Portugal has a speed limit of 120km/h, whereas the limit in Cyprus is only 100km/h. Lithuania, which has the lowest percentage of drivers exceeding the speed limit, at 19 per cent, has a relatively high limit of 130km/h. It could be said that the important thing was to obey the law regardless of what the speed limit is. Although this is a valid argument it ignores the fact that conditions have changed since the time the limit was put in place in Cyprus.

Cyprus’ speed limit of 100km/h is too low in this day and age, when we have aerodynamic and safer cars with much better road handling and performance than 40 years ago when the speed limit was set. Even more importantly, we have much better roads now with highways linking all of the main towns of Cyprus. In the sixties and seventies, the speed limit was 60 miles per hour (96.6km/h) and there was not a single highway on the island all roads being two-lanes, making overtaking a hazardous business. Despite the drastic improvement in the roads and the safer cars, the speed limit has only been increased by 3.4km/h since the sixties, which is ludicrous.

Aware it is totally unreasonable to expect people not to exceed 100km/h on the highways, police only book drivers caught going more than 119km/h, thus indicating that the legal speed limit can be ignored. The rational thing to do is to raise the limit on highways to 120 and book drivers even if they exceed it by 1km/h. Perhaps the percentage of drivers exceeding the limit would fall then.

Another interesting thing found by the report, which cannot possibly be accurate was that Cyprus had the second lowest rate of speed violations in urban areas, at 37 per cent. Yet the majority of road deaths according to the ETSC, are in urban areas. Could this be because there are not enough speed checks in urban areas and after midnight, when youths try to break the speed of sound in their souped-up cars, there are none at all.

Meanwhile, we are still waiting for the government to have traffic cameras installed, an attempt that began 15 years ago.  Traffic cameras are the best way to bring down the violations of the speed limits, especially in urban areas.


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