Traffic violations are set to become steeper and tougher starting October 1, after deputies voted on Friday a set of bills into law and approved regulations aimed at tackling irresponsible driving.
With an overwhelming majority, plenum voted in favour with two against, the laws and regulations aiming for road safety and a decrease in Cyprus’ high number of road deaths and serious injuries.
Based on the new rules, driving without a seatbelt or while using their mobile phone, the fine is €150 the first time around. Repeat offenders within a three-year period will see the fine doubled.
Driving without a helmet carries a €200 fine which shoots up to €400 if someone is caught again in the space of three years after their first fine.
Someone speeding is fined €1 for every km/h they are going above the speed limit up to 30 per cent of the speed limit. If the speed limit is exceeded between 31 and 50 per cent, the fine is €2 per exceeded km/h and for 51 to 75 per cent of the speed limit, the fine is €3 per exceeded km/h.
An individual drunk driving and speeding up to 75 per cent of the speed limit with their alcohol level up to 70μg/100ml can be issued two separate fines.
Overtaking where it is not permitted carries a €150 fine. The number is increased to €200 if someone overtakes on a pedestrian crossing.
Parking at a disabled parking is fined at €300
Fleeing a scene after an accident without offering help will constitute an offence which will carry a sentence.
Drivers are set to face steeper and more targeted fines in October, as parliament is set to vote next week on seven bills to introduce the changes.
The simple take-away is that fines are set to increase across the board. In most cases, the fines have been doubled with provisions for even steeper penalties for repeat offences within certain period of time.
The bills are set to pass next week but the new measures will not come into effect until October.
During the intervening two months, authorities will carry out a large-scale information campaign to inform the public of the new measures.
As one MP told the Cyprus Mail: “It’s complex set of changes that will occur and people will have to familiarise themselves with the new measures.”
It appears that there was some haggling over how steep to the fines should be.
It is understood that the justice ministry had lobbied for heftier fines, such as a penalty of €300 for using the phone while driving. The transport committee, however, proposed a fine of €150 which could reach €300 for a repeat offence.
The reasoning behind this, a member of the transport committee told the Cyprus Mail, is that “the fines should be high enough to act as a deterrent but not overly strict so as to bankrupt someone.”
The transport committee and justice ministry also hope to cover some loopholes. Currently, as the MP told the Cyprus Mail, it is cheaper to pay the fine for driving without a licence than it is to buy the licence itself.
The exact details of the new measures are set to be made available shortly as the information campaign begins.
Cyprus is near the bottom of European countries when it comes to the number of road fatalities per million inhabitants, according to figures released by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).
While Sweden has the safest roads, with 25 road deaths per million people, the UK is second with 28 and Cyprus is ranked at number 20 with 62.
Road fatalities are at their highest in eastern Europe. Romania has the worst record, with 99 fatalities per million inhabitants. Bulgaria comes close with 96. Next on the list are Croatia, Poland and Latvia.
The EU average is 49 fatalities per million.
According to the ACEA, road traffic deaths have been falling in the EU for the past two decades. In 2001, there were 54,900 fatalities. By 2017 this had fallen to 25,300.
However, more needs to be done, EU Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, responsible for internal market and industry, said.
“We can and must act to change this. With the new advanced safety features that will become mandatory, we can have the same kind of impact as when safety belts were first introduced,” she commented.
In a bid to alleviate traffic during the summer, police on Friday banned articulated lorries from using motorways and other networks between certain times the next three Sundays of the month.
According to a statement, on July 12, 19, and 26, between 9am and 1pm and 4pm and 8pm, articulated lorries would be banned from using motorways as well as the Nicosia -Troodos, Limassol-Platres-Troodos, and Paphos-Polis roads.
Recently, because of the large number of cars on the network and two crashes, thousands of motorists were stuck on the highway for hours.
In addition, police would be stepping up its patrols during the weekend and carry out checks with special emphasis on offences considered the main causes of fatal accidents.
On Sundays, police will also issue frequent announcements regarding the state of the roads.
Paphos police on Sunday appealed to motorbike users to wear helmets for their own safety.
Speaking after the death of a motorcyclist in Paphos early on Sunday morning, CID Paphos spokesman Michalis Ioannou said “we are making for one more time an appeal to motorcyclists to wear a helmet”.
Shortly before 5am on Sunday Evagoras Demetriou, 24, from Ayia Marina was driving home after a night out on the main road from Polis to his village when he lost control of the bike, which overturned leaving him on the pavement.
He was taken to Paphos general hospital where doctors confirmed his death.
Police arrested a 30-year-old man after he fled Bases police and attempted to evade state authorities in Limassol first thing on Saturday morning.
According to police, the 30-year-old, who had two passengers (18 and 16) in his car, failed to stop when signalled to do so by bases authorities. Instead, police said, he accelerated and intentionally hit a bases police car with two officers inside.
He then accelerated again and fled the scene, while police chased his vehicle and called for aid from the Republic of Cyprus authorities.
Upon entering the Republic of Cyprus areas in the Ypsonas area, police attempted to stop his vehicle again.
The 30-year-old refused and attempting to flee, he drove onto the opposite side of the road, where eventually he cashed into a 22-year-old’s car and one more police vehicle with two officers inside. He then hit into the same bases’ police car that was chasing him, a little further down the road, police said.
After hitting the vehicles, the 30-year-old’s car climbed onto the pavement, and then hit a tree, where it stopped.
All the drivers, the 22-year-old, the 30-year-old and his two passengers, and four officers in the police cars were injured and were taken to hospital.
Doctors determined the drivers were all lightly injured in the crashes, with the most serious injury being that of the 30-year-old, who fractured his hand.
All were discharged after receiving first aid, and the 30-year-old was arrested for a variety of traffic violations.
He refused to take an alcotest and narcotest.
More than 680 people were booked for traffic violations on Saturday during a police operation in all towns to crack down road offences.
According to the police of over 680 offences, 374 referred to speeding and 28 drunk driving.
One car was confiscated as were six motorbikes, a quad bike and a moped.
Cyprus ranks 18th in the EU in road deaths, according to the 14th annual Road Safety Performance Report published on Wednesday by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).
In 2019 there was an increase of 6.1 per cent in road deaths in Cyprus. There were 52 road deaths were recorded, three more than in 2018.
With last year’s increase, Cyprus has fallen one notch, from 17th to 18th place in the EU in deaths per capita.
A 3 per cent decrease was recorded overall in the EU in 2019.
Out of 32 countries monitored by the programme, 16 registered a decrease in road deaths in 2019 compared to 2018.
Luxembourg leads the ranking with a 39 per cent reduction in the number of road deaths between 2018 and 2019.15 It is followed by Sweden with a 32 per cent decrease, Estonia with 22 per cent and Switzerland with 20 per cent.
The number of road deaths increased in 12 countries, while progress stagnated in four. The largest increases were registered in Israel with 17 per cent, Denmark with 14 per cent, Slovenia with 12 per cent, Slovakia with 7 per cent and Lithuania and Cyprus with 6 per cent.
However, the report said annual numbers of deaths in Luxembourg and Malta are particularly small and are, therefore, subject to substantial annual fluctuation. Annual numbers of deaths in Cyprus and Estonia are also relatively small and, therefore, may be subject to considerable annual fluctuation.
This may explain why, though deaths in Cyprus increased, the number of seriously injured in road accidents in the country decreased.
The number of people recorded as seriously injured, based on national definitions, decreased in 18 out of 23 EU member states that collect data. However, in the EU23 collectively the progress in reducing serious road traffic injures remains insignificant since 2010.
Serious injuries recorded in Germany and the Netherlands increased and this has had a significant effect on the EU average as recorded serious injuries in these countries represent 48 per cent of all recorded serious injury data in the EU25.
The number of serious injuries increased by 45 per cent in Malta, by 13 per cent in the Netherlands, 11 per cent the UK and 9 per cent in Germany since 2010. At the other end of the ranking is Greece – it achieved the biggest decrease in the number of recorded serious injuries since 2010 with a 63 per cent reduction, followed by Cyprus with 42 per cent and Belgium with 35 per cent.
“It is now considered impossible to achieve the goal of reducing road deaths by 50 per cent from 2010 to 2020, as a reduction of 34.5 per cent is required this year, compared to 2019,” the report concluded.
“A reduction in road deaths is expected this year, of course, due to the restrictive measures taken to deal with the pandemic of Covid-19, but it is considered unlikely to be so great that it will achieve the goal. But even if that happens, it cannot be considered an achievement.”
By Annette Chrysostomou
LED lights will likely replace all conventional street lights in Cyprus by 2020, way earlier than the global goal which is to have 90 per cent of street lighting in the form of LED lamps, senior manager at the Electricity Authority (EAC) Yiangos Frangoulides has said.
As they are around 80 per cent more efficient than the old lights, replacing the bulbs will not only reduce electricity consumption and thus air pollution, but is also great for maintenance, as LED lights last years longer than fluorescent lights.
Already, more than two-thirds of municipalities have changed the bulbs in their roads or are in the process of doing so. Five major municipalities in Nicosia have done so, with just two to go. Nicosia (centre) and Aglandjia chose to issue private tenders these two are still being reviewed by the tenders authority.
The others chose to make a direct agreement with the EAC. At the start of the project, the EAC asked for tenders and selected three to work with. They then offered the municipality various deals, as the situation in each place is somewhat different. All include an eight-year free maintenance, which is part of the arrangement with the suppliers.
As Frangoulides puts it, it is a win-win deal for the communities and municipalities and the electricity authority.
Since the EAC gains kilowatt hours, as less electricity is needed for the new lamps and thus less will be produced, it avoids to pay penalties for CO2 emissions which they would otherwise have to pay to the EU from 2020. They would have had to charge the customers more for this, which is also not going to happen.
At the same time, a municipality can save money as it has to pay less to the EAC. In the case of Larnaca, for example, the saving is €500,000 per year, which enables the local authorities to pay back the money they have spent for the new lighting in three years, after which they will simply save the money.
Replacement of road lighting in Larnaca is expected to begin at the end of December and to be completed by the end of May 2020.
Athienou has also this week announced the replacement of their street lights,
The total cost of the project will be €275,310. It is expected that the municipality will save approximately €100,000 during the eight-year maintenance period.
The entire amount will be covered by a loan approved by the European Investment Bank, with a low-interest rate, while the cost will be recovered in less than two years, the municipality said.
Strovolos has signed an agreement with the electricity authority as well and plans to make up for the money in three years.
Three Paphos municipalities have already replaced them, as have parts of Limassol including Germasoyia and Ypsonas.
A slightly different version, smart lighting, will be used for streets in Ayia Napa. This means lights obeys commands. They can be dimmed or switched off remotely any time of the day and night, which makes sense for a tourist resort which is much busier in some months than others. In winter, the municipality may decide to dim lights or leave them off in some roads altogether as less lighting is needed when few people are around.
This not only saves money, but also helps to reduce light pollution.
The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) estimates that least 30 per cent of all outdoor lighting in the US alone is wasted, mostly by lights that aren’t shielded.
“That adds up to $3.3 billion and the release of 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. To offset all that carbon dioxide, we’d have to plant 875 million trees annually,” the association calculated.
At the same time, incandescent and fluorescent lights attract night-migrating birds more than LED lights, leading them astray. The reduced direct and reflected up-light also means a reduction in urban sky glow.
Some 95 per cent of the lamps energy is converted into light and just 5 per cent wasted as heat. Since so little heat is emitted from the light source, this reduces their attractiveness to bugs.
TISPOL President Volker Orben spoke at a road safety conference in Cyprus, on Friday 28 June, organised by the delegation of the European Commission in Cyprus and the Cyprus Police, at the House of the European Union, in Nicosia.
Volker spoke about the mission of TISPOL, which is responsible for the coordination of activities at a European level, for the effective and efficient enforcement of traffic legislation as well as the implementation of road policing, a fundamental model for the prevention of criminality on the roads, which many European countries – including the Cyprus Police – adopted during the current decade.
He highlighted the impact Project Edward can have on casualty reduction and awareness raising – while also stressing the utmost importance of enforcement in the sector of the respect of traffic legislation and the prevention of road deaths and serious injuries. In this respect, he presented the operational results of TISPOL.He stressed that TISPOL appreciates the fact that the European Commission established in 2018 a new Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety to halve road deaths by 2030 and he indicated the importance of the joint cross-border road traffic enforcement operations organized in cooperation between police bodies.
He explained that the target set by the European Commission of a 50 per cent reduction in road deaths and serious injuries by 2030 is an important commitment of TISPOL and a key issue, indicating that in the frame of their daily duties the members of TISPOL are called to exchange information and best practice on a constant basis, bearing in mind the Valetta Declaration. He thanked the Cyprus Police for their contribution in the road safety campaigns, which include enforcement and publicity of the actions undertaken, especially for speeding, drink and drug driving, distraction and the non-use of seat belts.