Cyprus to toughen penalties for driving offenses
Justice Minister, Ionas Nicolaou said current measures and penalties fell short of being deterrents in assisting in the reduction of fatal road accidents, after presenting the results of a study by the University of Cyprus on Tuesday.
The study, headed by Dr Andreas Kapardis, will be incorporated within the Ministry’s strategy to find means to reduce the number of traffic accidents on the island’s roads.
Nicolaou presented a series of suggestions put forward by the Justice Ministry and are expected to be submitted as part of a package of bills within 30 days.
He suggested the creation of a legislative committee from the House Legal and Transport Committees to process the relevant bills.
According to police statistics, from 2011-2015, a total of 6,562 traffic accidents were reported to the police while figures released by Stefi Drakou, president of the Insurance Association of Cyprus (IAC) brings the total to 180,000.
“It is imperative that we move forward in order to modernise legislation and to revise penalties,” said Nicolaou, referring to the island’s 40-year-old traffic legislation.
According to Kapardis, the penalties available to the courts to administer do not serve as a preventative measure especially due to the low probability of finding and punishing the culprit.
The study presents 21 specific legislative proposals and includes strict but targeted penalties and the creation of a national road safety strategy.
Despite figures showing that traffic accidents had decreased over the years, the number of fatalities had increased from 12.8 per 1,000 in 1982 to 39 per 1000 in 2014 while 82% of accidents were reported in rural areas.
Referring to police statistics, Kapardis said that drunk driving was the cause of the majority of accidents (27%), followed by careless driving (23%), failure to check the left side of the ride (14%) and speed (13%).
Kapardis is also hopeful that traffic cameras will be reintroduced as they had helped reduce traffic accidents by 14% while operational in 2007.
The 21 legislative proposals recommended by the study include suggestions by the Justice Ministry and the current practices employed in Greece and the United Kingdom and include:
The reduction of the maximum amount of penalty points from 12 to six while setting the maximum speed at 120Km/H and the minimum at 60Km/H.
Any person caught driving on a highway at more than 30% of the maximum speed limit, will not be issued a fine but will lose his licence for six months, pay a fine and or receive a prison sentence.
Creation of a category of ‘monitored drivers’ which will be added to the category of drivers which will have a lower permitted alcohol limit.
The penalty for causing a fatal traffic accident through reckless and dangerous driving should be raised to 10 years imprisonment.
Increase to three years imprisonment and/or a maximum of €5,000 fine for abandoning a scene of a fatal traffic accident or where serious injury has been caused.
Driving in a way that endangers the lives of others should be punishable with a maximum two-year prison term as opposed to the current one year, and provisions made for the confiscation of the car for one month.
Penalties for drunk driving and driving under the influence of narcotics or medicines that induce drowsiness should carry a maximum two-year prison sentence and or a €500 fine.
Drivers caught using mobile phones should be penalised with 2-4 penalty points on their licences.
Driving without a licence will carry a €200 fine, confiscation of the car for one month while the costs of towing, transporting and the storage of the car will be charged to the owner of the car.
Failure to register a transfer of origin with 72 hours will carry a €400 fine, while people losing their licences will be required to retake their driver’s test in order to be issued with a new licence and will be considered a ‘new driver’ for a period of three years.
Other suggestions include a €150 fine for abandoning a car in a dangerous spot, 2 penalty points and the confiscation of the car for parking on the side of oncoming traffic, an increase in fines for not wearing seatbelts and penalties for drunk driving and speed repeat offenders.
Source : InCyprus