The Cypriot government seeks to amend legislation so that authorities can notify traffic camera violators via SMS or email text, but legal issues and a drastic drop in daily violations could hinder those efforts when the bill heads for the House this year.
According to traffic police deputy chief Charis Evripidou, who spoke on Sigmalive during a live news program on Tuesday, a bill proposal currently under review at the Legal Department aims at streamlining the process of paying fines on traffic camera violators.
“One of the main legislative amendments that we are pursuing is the ability to send messages to vehicle owners notifying them about fines from traffic cameras,” Evripidou said.
The bill would allow state authorities to send traffic camera citations and fines to vehicle owners directly, without the use of paper, either via SMS text to a mobile phone or by email.
“Those who can and wish to respond may do so electronically, there will be no need to use regular mail,” he added.
Drivers who wish to settle fines out of court will be able to log in online and pay, but the police official also warned that those who wish to go to court could end up paying more in the end
Drivers who wish to settle fines out of court will be able to log in online and pay, Evripidou said, but the official also added that those who wish to go to court could end up paying more.
Critics have raised legal questions about the process of a private contractor dealing with notifications, citing sensitive information and privacy concerns.
A particular concern was about drivers who were not the same persons as the vehicle owners, while rental car owners also took issue after they have been receiving citations for violations committed by customers.
Evripidou says issues are being addressed in the new proposal.
“We are currently vetting the bill at the Legal Department, this was a good time for us over the holiday break and also because of the elections,” he said.
But Evripidou also said it was up to drivers to decide whether to pay fines quickly and easily, saying this was already taking place.
“The platform is already online, an individual may log in and see the photos and provide details, including the name of the driver if this was someone else, and so everyone will save time,” Evripidou added.
About 40% of traffic camera citations remained unpaid according to Evripidou.
Road safety questions
Last December Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos vowed to fix traffic when he announced a series of actions and legislative amendments, telling the Cyprus News Agency in an interview that “traffic collisions have dropped by 33.7%,” and further suggesting statistical data suggested traffic accidents were down following the introduction of traffic cameras in early 2022.
But critics say no specific information has been provided on the issue, with some further arguing that cameras installed at traffic light intersections or used in other locations could also result in unfair fines for some citizens.
Questions as to whether the new system has improved road safety have also been raised.
Officials insist traffic cameras save lives on the road and argue that the government has also found legal ways to cut red tape through the use of a modern multimillion euro project.
Evripidou says the number of violations has dropped drastically following the operation of traffic cameras.
Traffic light violations went from over 1500 daily down to nearly 300 on an average day, he said, adding that drivers now know about the system and tend to comply with road rules.
“We believe this is also evident in the number of collisions that has gone down, also last year,” Evripidou said.
The network is operated by US-based Conduent Transportation, which says traffic cameras can reduce speeding and collision accidents as well as help law enforcement enforce traffic laws more effectively.
New traffic light cameras recently recently installed in Nicosia are expected to go into operation later this month at the intersections of Armenias and Limassol Avenues as well as Grivas and Prodromou.
There will be a grace period for about week, Evripidou said, while additional cameras in Limassol were also expected to go into operation around the same time.