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Ministry says series of road safety measures already in pipeline

A series of measures to tackle unsafe roads are in the pipeline, the transport ministry said on Tuesday, expressing its concern at the recent surge in fatal traffic accidents.

A road safety council meeting on August 8 already agreed to push for the installation of traffic cameras and for the constant upgrading of road networks, a ministry announcement said.

Bills are also on the table to increase penalties for traffic violations and speeding, as well to increase the effectiveness of the education of new drivers to encourage better driving behaviour, it added.

Also in the pipeline are the introduction of driver’s education and road safety courses at secondary and technical schools.

Focus has in recent days shifted to the issue of road safety and Cyprus’ driving culture after the island saw six road deaths in a 10-day period, bringing total deaths on the road to 29 since the beginning of the year.

The police force’s top brass in an emergency meeting on Monday called out the government for the delay in processing bills submitted in March which seek to introduce stricter penalties.

“With the current arrangements, we have the disappointing state of affairs of having hundreds of checks and citations with thousands of violations and offenders without a change in behaviour,” police spokesman Christos Andreou said.

Included in the bills is an increase in the fines for speeding from €1 per kilometre to €5, while using a phone while driving will carry a €300 fine instead of the current €85.

Failure to wear a seatbelt will cost €400, also up from €85.

Not wearing crash helmets on motorcycles, running red lights and parking on pedestrian crossings and in spaces reserved for handicapped drivers will cost €200 from €85. Reckless driving that ends up causing bodily harm will be punishable with up to three years in jail and or a fine of up to €10,000.

Traffic cameras have been another long-standing demand. Cameras were removed after being used for a few months in 2006 because of a dispute with the contractor, and since then there have been several tender procedures that were annulled. The latest process provides for the installation of cameras sometime in 2021.

Pending the stricter penalties and cameras, instructions have been given for stronger police presence on the roads and stricter policing with emphasis on offences such as speeding, drink driving and use of mobile phones by drivers.

 

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