Following the death of another young biker on Sunday, Cyprus has mourned 25 road accident victims in just over six months, with authorities puzzled why measures have not paid off.
A traffic camera system introduced last year to reduce road deaths has done little to prevent accidents, while Cypriot drivers or riders ignore basic rules of driving safety, such as wearing a seatbelt or a crash helmet.
According to police data, the first six months this year saw road deaths go up by 50% compared to the same period in 2021.
In total, 25 people have lost their lives in 23 accidents this year, compared to 16 deaths in the same period in 2021.
Eleven of the road deaths occurred in June.
The latest victim was 21-year-old Alexandros Alexandrou from Larnaca, who lost his life in a road accident in the early hours of Sunday on the Rizoelia-Larnaca Airport highway.
Police said he was driving a high-powered motorcycle that collided with a car in the fast lane of the road.
Following the first collision, the motorcycle collided with a second car moving in the highway’s left lane and hit the security rail before it stopped.
Alexandrou’s death is added to another 24 people who lost their lives this year. He was wearing a crash helmet.
Last week, a meeting on road accidents was chaired by Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos, following a spike in deaths in June.
Authorities agreed that action needed to be taken, but no new measures were announced.
Karousos had addressed the issue of the traffic system being bogged under a backlog of tens of thousands of fines, meaning that operators had to postpone the second phase of the network, which was to be launched in June.
Cyprus’ traffic camera network operators, Conduent State & Local Solutions, received a warning from the government for failing to process fines on time.
There are currently four fixed and four mobile cameras while it is expected that gradually 90 fixed and 20 mobile ones will be introduced over three years.
The four fixed cameras are at the busy Nicosia junction of Grivas Digheni and Demosthenis Severis Avenues.
Once the €34 mln system is fully operational, there will be 90 fixed units in 30 locations and 20 mobile cameras, which police will determine their place of operation.
Meanwhile, a police official told Phileleftheros daily that Cypriots fail to follow basic road safety rules.
Deputy chief of the Police, Demetris Demetriou, told Phileleftheros that two-thirds of people who lost their lives in road accidents while riding in a car were not wearing a seatbelt.
He said that six out of nine car passengers killed in road accidents were not wearing a seatbelt while they were aged between 20 and 39.
“I can confidently tell you that at least five of the six would be among us today if only they had worn their seatbelts.
“But, unfortunately, it’s a law of physics; in a road collision, our body will be thrown forward,” said Demetriou.
Eight motorcyclists were killed in road accidents, of which six (80%) were not wearing a protective helmet.
Half of the road deaths involved foreigners, either permanent residents or tourists.
Meanwhile, the Transport Ministry is promoting a series of actions, such as an incentive plan to purchase protective equipment, legislative amendments to the Law on Driving Licenses and a legislative package regulating the movement of Personal Mobility Devices (scooters).
The ministry is also designing an application for motorists to report problems or safety threats they spot on the island’s road network, prompting authorities to take action.