Traffic violations have dropped by half ever since the cameras went ‘live’ compared to the period during which they were used on a pilot basis, MPs heard on Thursday.
During the ‘silent phase’ – October 25, 2021 to January 1, 2022 – traffic cameras would record approximately 1,800 violations daily. Now they get around 9,000 hits a day.
Harris Evripidou, deputy traffic chief, told lawmakers that the decline shows the cameras are having an impact, both in terms of deterrence but also in “changing culture.”
The 30,000 fines issued since January 1 started being sent out to the violators only this Wednesday. Evripidou explained this was because authorities had needed to ensure that all proper procedures were followed, and in line with personal data considerations.
No breakdown was given on the number of fines per type of traffic violation; the police official said these data would be compiled and sent to parliamentarians soon.
Evripidou remarked that tourists – using rentals while in Cyprus – are often more responsive than Cypriots. In many instances, he said, foreign nationals who were fined get in touch with the police here asking how to pay.
Akel MP Yiannakis Gavriel said his party obviously supports measures to prevent traffic accidents, but complained that the 30,000 fines issued to date show that this has morphed into “a tax collection system.”
Earlier in the day, the police’s Evripidou told CyBC how the first 6,000 fines for more than 30,00 traffic violations caught by fixed and mobile cameras have been sent out to offenders, 40 days after the system went live officially.
He said the out-of-court fines are being sent by registered mail together with links and passwords to a website where offenders can see details of the traffic offence as well as photographs.
Most of the offences are in residential areas, he added.
The fine must be paid within 30 days otherwise it will rise by half and must be paid within 45 days. If it is not paid by then, the case will be sent to court.
Four fixed cameras have been installed in Nicosia and police are also using four mobile cameras, the first phase of the plan that will eventually see 110 cameras across the Republic in a renewed push to stem the bloodshed on the roads.
Already beset with delays in its launch, the traffic camera scheme got off to a bumpy start when it emerged that administrative and procedural complications were holding up offenders being fined.
The first set of traffic cameras were launched on October 25 and were operating on a pilot basis until January 1, at which point fines were set to be issued.
Yet it is only 40 days after the grace period ended that the first fines have gone out, with a tangled bureaucracy and poor communication between government departments billed as the one of the main factors for the delay.
Local media reported last month that one office may have the public’s information stored in Greek, another in English and another in a mix of both, making it difficult to confirm a person’s place of residence, for example.
Mobile camera units typically record speeding violations while the fixed units also pick up passing the line at a red light, speeding, not wearing a helmet and parking on yellow lines.
The contract for the cameras includes 90 fixed units in 30 locations around the island as well as 20 mobile cameras which police will determine their location and operating hours on a daily basis.