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Our View: Speed ‘leniency’ a mockery of traffic laws

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Having established that 70 per cent of road deaths in Cyprus occur in built-up areas, twice the EU average, the police have decided they would get tougher on violations of the speed limit in towns. This greater toughness would mean less leeway in exceeding the speed limit.

Until now, a driver could exceed the speed limit by as much as 20 per cent without being fined. So if the limit was 50kph the driver would have to go over 60kph to be booked. This leeway will now be reduced to 10 per cent, said the police meaning 55kph would be the speed limit in towns. The 20 per cent leniency on highways will remain, it was reported.

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We do not know who thought up this ‘leniency’ business, which essentially makes a mockery of traffic laws, a mockery that is carried out by the law enforcers. Why should a driver take any traffic law seriously when the police ignore the law on speeding as a matter of policy? And is it up to the police to decide by what percentage a speed limit must be exceeded before a driver should be fined? We do not think they have such an authority.

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This nonsense with ‘leniency’ must stop. If the police believe a speed limit of 55kph would make city roads safer this should be the limit, and anyone driving at 56kph or more should be booked. On highways there is a theoretical limit of 100kph, which is probably too low, but only those going above 120kph (the 20 per cent leeway) are booked. The speed limit should be raised to 115 or 120kph by law and no leeway offered.

People will eventually learn that a speed limit on a road sign means exactly what it says and not another 10 per cent or 20 per cent above the number. The absurdity of having signs on all the highways with the number 100 for the speed limit, when in fact it is 120, defies belief. By the same logic – road signs should not be taken at face value – police might decide they would book only 80 per cent of drivers going the wrong way up a one-way street or turning right, despite the existence of a ‘no right turn’ road sign.

Police should understand that this officially sanctioned laxness is part of the reason drivers show such utter disregard for the speed limits in built-up areas. Why would any driver comply with the speed limit when even the police allow them to violate it by as much as 20 per cent before booking them? If the police want to reduce road deaths they should enforce the traffic laws as they are on paper and not in the way a police chief interprets them.


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