Mortality on urban roads in Cyprus is close to three times the EU average with around 60 deaths per million inhabitants, the fourth worst record in the bloc, with progress on reducing fatalities having stagnated, a damning report published on Tuesday revealed.
More than 50 per cent of all road deaths on the island occur in urban areas, the authors said. Although Cyprus didn’t rank high in terms of pedestrian and cyclist deaths on city streets, a high level of traffic law violations leads in particular to the deaths of drivers of PTWs (powered two-wheelers). Motorbike and moped riders account for 31 per cent of all fatalities in urban areas.
“Mopeds are widely used on urban roads by young and inexperienced people who are mostly students or delivery service providers. Most of the young moped users ride with a learners’ licence and they lack proper training,” the report said. It also said the use of safety helmets was not as widespread as desired and often when helmets were used, they were not properly strapped. It added that a culture of respect for PTW riders was lacking among other vehicle drivers.
“Notwithstanding the above, an indepth study is required to provide evidence for the actual reasons for the large number of PTW deaths in Cyprus,” the report added, quoting George Morfakis, a Cypriot road safety expert.
The report by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), a Brussels-based independent non-profit organisation, said mortality on urban roads was highest in Romania with 105 road users killed per million urban inhabitants – four times the EU average of 26.
Urban road mortality in Croatia was 88 deaths per million, in Serbia 74, in Cyprus 60, in Greece 58 and in Poland 57, it showed. Certain countries, notably Cyprus and the UK, did not have boundary signs to distinguish between urban and rural road sections.
“Progress has stagnated in the UK, Spain and Cyprus,” said the authors. On average, reported road deaths on urban roads decreased by 2.2 per cent annually in the EU since 2010. Recorded serious road traffic injuries were reduced on average by 6 per cent annually in Cyprus but the island was one of the 13 countries where the progress in reducing road deaths on urban roads was slower than the progress on rural roads. Road deaths on urban roads were reduced by 9 per cent more slowly annually than on rural roads in Lithuania, 8 per cent in Norway, and 7 per cent in Cyprus and Estonia.
Tackling the issue must be a key priority for the EU over the next decade, the ETSC said. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists – the three most vulnerable road user groups – represent 70 per cent of those killed and seriously injured on urban roads across the bloc.
“As long as people don’t feel safe walking and cycling in our towns and cities, many will be discouraged from using the most sustainable modes of transport. Over the next ten years, we want to see the EU and all European countries investing in urban transport in a way that prioritises the most vulnerable road users. This is not just about safer infrastructure and setting safe speed limits but also better enforcement of speed limits as well as reducing drink driving and distraction,” lead author of the report Dovilė Adminaitė-Fodor said.