As 2019 ends, Cyprus mourns the loss of 52 victims killed in road accidents, the highest death toll for two years.
Despite Cyprus having significantly reduced the number of road accidents and fatalities over the past 20 years, efforts seemed to have plateaued.
However, Cyprus Traffic Police hope that stiffer fines and speed cameras to be introduced in 2020 will go a long way in reducing the death rate.
And 2019 was one of the worst years for road fatalities in the past decade. In 2010, 60 people lost their lives on Cyprus roads, 71 in 2011 and 51 in 2012.
Some 44 people lost their lives in road accidents in 2013, In 2014, Cyprus mourned the loss of 45 people, with deaths spiking to 57 the following year, dropping back down to 46 in 2016.
In 2017 53 people lost their lives on Cyprus roads, and 49 in 2018.
With the rate of fatalities per population still high, and far from EU targets set in 2010 for member states to halve them by 2020, Cyprus is obliged to reduce road deaths to less than 30 a year.
Next year parliament is expected to approve the increase in penalties for serious traffic offences, while speed cameras are expected to be introduced towards the end of 2020.
Offences for which tougher penalties will be introduced include speeding, not wearing a seatbelt or crash helmet, drunk driving and taking drugs.
Parking in a spot reserved for people with limited mobility will also be included in the list.
The Justice Ministry has called for a three-fold increase of penalties, with MPs leaning towards a smaller increase given the economic situation prevailing in the country.
However, Traffic Police argue that any increase in penalties will see a drop in offences.
Head of the Traffic Police Department, Yiannakis Georgiou said that 17 of the 52 fatal accidents were caused by drivers’ bad behaviour on the road.
He added that if Cypriot drivers improve their driving mentality, the rate of deaths will drop significantly.
Georgiou said that during the three-day Christmas holiday, 850 motorists were reported for driving offences, while another 396 were cautioned during the weekend before Christmas.
Meanwhile, 20 January is the last day for bidders to submit their tender for the installation of speed cameras on Cyprus roads.
If no objections are filed, then the first set of speed cameras will be installed by the end of 2020.