Road safety en­tails road­wor­thy ve­hi­cles and de­cent by­ways

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - OPINION -

It’s no use talk­ing about road safety and re­duc­ing the death toll among mo­torists, when half the blame is on the poor con­di­tion of Cyprus roads, with the prob­lem ex­ac­er­bated by poor in­spec­tion of cars, trucks and buses.

Cyprus is a sig­na­tory of the “Euro­pean Road Safety Char­ter” that aims to re­duce, even halve the num­ber of fa­tal­i­ties on our roads, with ma­jor cor­po­ra­tions sub­scrib­ing to the cam­paign and help­ing to raise aware­ness.

But the cam­paign has long been for­got­ten and in­ter­est has dwin­dled, with most of us re­turn­ing to our old habits of al­low­ing tyres to wear thin, head­lamps blaz­ing like a foot­ball sta­dium and screech­ing brake pads in need of des­per­ate re­place­ment.

A se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer re­cently com­mented that even though the law al­lows of­fi­cers to stop cars that are in gross vi­o­la­tion of safety reg­u­la­tions, they don’t have the man­power or time to tow all these sub­stan­dard ve­hi­cles to the near­est po­lice sta­tion for in­spec­tion, cau­tion and ul­ti­mately, re­pair. How right he was.

It should not be the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of the traf­fic cops to reg­u­larly check your head­lamps, noisy ex­haust or tailpipe pro­duc­ing plumes of black smoke. This is what we pay the MOT cen­tres for, who un­der­take to check all road-wor­thi­ness fea­tures for a fee. And if they’re busy, some most prob­a­bly al­low mo­torists to get away with ba­sic safety vi­o­la­tions, as long as the owner prom­ises to send the car back to the garage (usu­ally the same place).

But what hap­pens in the case of used car im­ports, some of which have been on for­eign roads for more than five years and have de­te­ri­o­rat­ing safety fea­tures that are of­ten not caught in a sim­ple and speedy 25euro in­spec­tion.

Who al­lows ‘en­hanced’ head­lamps to be in­stalled, when the light’s beam falls dan­ger­ously smack in the face of the driver in the op­po­site di­rec­tion or the one im­me­di­ately in front?

And now that the gov­ern­ment so joy­fully keeps on re­mind­ing us that the econ­omy is on a healthy and steady growth path, shouldn’t money be spent on fix­ing roads, es­pe­cially as many of these were built decades ago when the num­ber of cars was much fewer.

The case of the kid­nap of two school­child­ren from a Lar­naca el­e­men­tary this week prompted the bick­er­ing sides in the teach­ers’ dis­pute to join hands and re­solve some of their dif­fer­ences.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion was gen­er­ous enough to de­clare that it will in­vest in se­cu­rity cam­eras and mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems at schools. This is prefer­able than more money go­ing to pay for in­ef­fi­cient civil ser­vants or teach­ers who don’t want to do the ex­tra work they are hand­somely paid for.

Agreed, there should be money avail­able for school se­cu­rity, but there is also a press­ing need to fix roads and im­prove our road trans­port sys­tem in gen­eral.

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