Cyprus has seen witnessed 26 fatal traffic accidents so far this year, resulting in 28 deaths, Justice Minister Anna Procopiou said on Tuesday.
Of these, nine were attributed to careless and distracted driving.
Launching the road safety campaign Eyes on the Road – The Mobile can Wait, Procopiou said that 7,331 fines for mobile phone use were issued in 2022, and 6,367 from January 1, 2023 until today.
“These numbers highlight the urgent need to take action and raise awareness among the public about the dangers posed by mobile phone use while driving.”
Procopiou added that “distraction is one of the main factors contributing to road collisions, affecting drivers’ reaction time to unexpected incidents.
“A moment of distraction can have serious consequences,” she said, pointing out instances where drivers use their mobile phones while waiting at traffic lights, talking, sending messages, checking social media or even taking selfies.
According to the minister, “drivers often underestimate the danger, thinking they can handle the situation.”
However, distraction for a few seconds is equivalent to blind driving for 70 meters when moving at a speed of 50 kilometres per hour.
Procopiou said she hoped the campaign would “raise awareness because every citizen’s life is invaluable and should not be endangered due to careless, irresponsible, and selfish driving.”
Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades added that one in ten drivers uses a mobile phone while driving, and, in urban areas, where the highest number of traffic accidents collisions and pedestrian movements are seen observed, the percentage rises to one in nine drivers.
“In specific vehicle categories, such as light trucks, the daily rate is even higher, approximately one in seven drivers,” Vafeades said.
He admitted that in Cyprus widespread disobedience of traffic rules are seen on a daily basis, with the most serious violations being speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and running red lights.
A Strategic Road Safety Plan for 2021-2030 aims to reduce road deaths and injuries by 50 per cent by 2030, following the goals of the European Union.