After around 13 years, Cyprus’ motorists will once more see traffic cameras on the roads as part of efforts to enhance safety and reduce fatalities.
Monday saw the inauguration of the system on a pilot basis until January whereby offenders will not be fined but will receive a written notice instead.
After that, and in the next six months, Cyprus will see the operation of 20 fixed and 16 mobile cameras. In a year from Monday, there will be 90 fixed cameras at various locations across the republic, while police also have 20 mobile cameras at their disposal to use as they see fit.
Reaction to the cameras has been mixed; a lot of motorists suggest it’s a money-grabbing scheme by the state while others believe it will contribute to road safety.
A lot of complaints came from people who spend a lot of time on the roads each day.
In just a few hours on Monday, four fixed cameras installed at one of the busiest junctions on the island, Demosthenis Severis and Grivas Dhigenis Avenues in the capital’s centre, and four mobile cameras used across the Republic, recorded close to 500 offences.
Between 4am and 11.30am, the four junction cameras flashed 286 times. Mobile cameras caught 209 offences between 7am and 11.30am.
And this after the advance announcement that the cameras would be going online Monday. During a dry run between lunchtime Friday and 9am Saturday, the four junction cameras recorded 635 offences – 420 red light and 215 speed violations.
The cameras record speeding, running red lights and breaching stop lines, a common daily offence in Cyprus. However, if in the process a driver is photographed using their mobile phone or not wearing a seatbelt or helmet, when it comes to motorcycle riders, those offences will be added to the original cause that triggered the camera.
Traffic cameras are seen as a key tool in reducing yearly road fatalities.
A system of traffic cameras operated in the Republic for around 10 months between November 2006 and August 2007, but were removed due to technical problems and disagreements with the supplier. Since then, there had been several botched tenders’ procedures.
During those 10 months, 16 fixed traffic and seven mobile cameras recorded around 165,000 violations, though the real number was in fact much higher as for various reasons the system was unable to process roughly 30 per cent of violations.
Cyprus has seen a 20 per cent drop in fatalities between 2010 and 2020, but the 576 people killed in the past decade is still a high number for such a small island.
It is still early to say whether the cameras will fulfil their purpose, though in the UK accidents and fatalities have dropped at camera sites. What will certainly work is a change in the mentality of the average Cypriot motorist. Getting their pocket hit will certainly cause an adjustment in behaviour but changing mentality would take a lot more. Educating and training younger people would be a good start and money from fines could be used to fund such programmes.