The transport ministry is working on legislative changes as part of efforts to improve road safety, minister Yiannis Karousos said on Thursday as he welcomed private initiatives to stem the bloodshed on the roads.

Karousos was speaking at a press conference where Trust Insurance Cyprus outlined its “be a responsible driver for yourself and others” campaign, providing free ‘do-it-yourself’ alcotests for drivers.

His remark came amid bleak figures on road fatalities which, after some improvement, have spiked in 2022 to bring the numbers back to 2018 levels. Figures for bikers are even more discouraging.

This was acknowledged by the minister who said that in the period 2017 to 2021, nearly one in three of road victims (30 per cent) were on motorbikes or mopeds. In 2021, 14 of the 45 road deaths were bikers or passengers. The number of injured bikers was also high, accounting in 2021 for 47.34 per cent of serious injuries from road collisions and 29.33 per cent of light injuries.

This year’s statistics are concerning, with the number of fatalities at 2018 levels, he added.

In a bid to turn the tide, the ministry has launched a number of initiatives, including a proposal regarding the protective equipment required for those who drive motorbikes and mopeds as a profession. As part of this bid, the ministry launched a three-year €1.05m scheme offering grants for protective equipment.

Other initiatives include a bill amending the law to restrict the validity of a learner’s licence to two years from the date of issue.

“The actions extend on multiple levels aimed at specific vulnerable groups or users of the road network. Initiatives from the private sector, such as this by Trust Insurance Cyprus, bolster the government’s drive to improve behaviour or the roads and send the message that road safety is a collective responsibility,” he said.

The breathalysers presented at the event are chargeable and reusable. The company’s vision is for them to become part of daily driving routine, just like seat belts and helmets.

Also present at the event was House president Anita Demetriou who highlighted the importance of self-checks.

“Every year we have a concerning number of road fatalities that we must address. It is with campaigns such as today’s that we can do so,” she said.

About one in four of road fatalities in the EU are due to drunk driving. In Cyprus, alcohol is the second most frequent cause for road deaths – accounting for 18.99 per cent of the total over the period 2017 to 2021, after careless and risky driving.