Drivers are employing devious methods to avoid being fined for traffic violations
Drivers are banding together to avoid the long lens of the law: social media groups are sharing the location of mobile traffic cameras, with some drivers even obstructing them.
The Cyprus Mail contacted one of the people who claims to have done so “maybe 200 times [and] by now I know most employees by name”.
By parking behind mobile traffic cameras, operating through vans, their ability to track violations is disrupted. They are less likely to issue fines.
The driver has posted videos to the ‘CY Police Checkpoints’ Facebook group, with 151,600 members, which show him pulling up behind a mobile traffic camera van, parking, and lighting a cigarette – or drinking a coffee.
Posting in the group is a popular way for users to share the location of mobile camera units, or to simply vent their frustration.
In one video, the operator of the mobile camera exits the van and asks why he is parked there, the driver simply replies that he’s just drinking his coffee.
His videos, one titled ‘what a nice parking spot I found’, attract much applause with supportive comments, although not all, but many are often jovial.
“Shall I come do the next shift?” one reads, setting the tone. Others are less polite in their antipathy towards the traffic cameras.
When contacted by the Cyprus Mail, he wanted to emphasise his position: “I have never been caught by a camera, neither have I had any points taken off my licence… I am not against the speed control – when it is done according to the law.
“When they [employees of the traffic camera company] tell me that they will have problems with their boss and may be fired then I leave,” he added.
It’s been a bumpy ride for the traffic cameras, with the mobile units attracting particular disdain – as many claim that they are deliberately placed along ‘trap’ zones to catch drivers off-guard, such as at sudden changes of the speed limit.
Others argue that the state should not have outsourced police duties to a private company, as is the case with the mobile traffic camera units.
Asked to comment on such incidents, police spokesman Christos Andreou told the Cyprus Mail that it is not currently illegal to ‘block’ the mobile cameras.
In the footage posted online the driver parks behind the van which is itself parked by the side of the road.
“No, that it not a violation but it is understood that efforts are underway to amend the legislation so that if a person is disrupting the cameras then there will be a fine – the proposal has put it at €5,000,” the spokesman explained.
“We have had such a case [of cameras being blocked], I’m not sure if it’s many, but police go to the scene and speak with the person and they move on – but as far as I’m aware it was only one such incident,” he told us.
Andreou explained, however, that while it is not – yet – illegal to block the cameras there are other ways to stop the person from blocking them.
“When we receive a complaint that someone is disrupting the cameras then an officer may go and ask the person to leave, if they refuse to do so then the person can be fined.
“They can be fined because they are not complying with the instructions of a police officer, I believe the fine is €85,” he said.
When we put this to the driver who does block the mobile cameras, he said that no fine has ever been issued to him and then referenced freedom of movement as enshrined in article 13 of the constitution.
“Any order to move from a place where I am legally parked is unconstitutional and I really want to get this ticket [so] that I can take them to court – that is how the system changes, through court rulings.”
Another persistent complaint from many in the group is that the companies operating the cameras are incentivised to set speed traps and issue as many fines as possible.
The police spokesman flatly rejected the claim.
“There is no connection between the fines issued and how much the company is paid – that claim is not at all valid, the contract is a set amount for them to do their work; it’s not linked to how many fines are issued,” he said, adding that neither the company nor operators profit by issuing more fines.
It’s fair to say the cameras have proved controversial, and Andreou previously conceded that there have been many difficulties with the mobile camera units – having been shot at and personnel attacked.
More recently, it was decided that all staff working with mobile traffic cameras are to undergo a narcotest before they are hired – after it emerged that an employee had tested positive. The employee was tested by the police after complaints claimed he parked the van illegally.
The developments follow another incident where last week a van was parked in a disabled parking spot.
The first traffic cameras went live in October 2021, with Kathimerini reporting that as of that date until June 2023 there were 132,982 fines issued.
Speeding is by far the most common violation, accounting for 108,324 of the total 134,085 recorded infractions.
Link to the vid below: