|Sunday, 3 March 2024
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-03-17
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Sunday, March 17, 2002
 Police use shock tactics on boy racersBy George Psyllides
IT WAS an extraordinary day at the police academy yesterday. Instead of cadets the classroom was filled with drivers who had acquired a high number of penalty points.
The drivers were greeted by Traffic Police Chief Andreas Papas whose idea it was to organise the voluntary lecture, attended by around 35 Nicosia drivers from the 70 who had received an invitation.
“We aim to educate them about the dangers of driving and explain how they can be safe drivers,” Papas said. “We want to stop them from breaking the law and losing their licences as a result.”
It was the first time such a seminar had been held by police, although similar lectures are given in schools and army camps.
Listening to the noise of the cars as they drove into the academy, it was easy to understand why some of the drivers had accumulated such a high number of points.
In the space of five minutes three souped-up sports cars driven by young men in their twenties roared into the parking area. They were followed a couple of minutes later by a silver Ferrari.
The rest of the group was made up of people who spend a lot of time behind the wheel, something which makes them more prone to break the law.
Papas began his talk by explaining briefly how the points system worked. Then police statistician Demetris Demetriou presented the group with some terrifying statistics: between 1997 and 2001, 548 people were killed on Cyprus roads, and 5,375 were seriously injured and spent a long time in hospital. Many were now amputees or suffered from other handicaps. Another 19,780 people suffered less serious injuries.
Demetriou said the average annual death toll was 110 - 13 already for this year - and 1,075 serious injuries.
In the past 27 years, 2,833 people have been killed, 30,557 seriously injured and 80,518 slightly hurt, he said.
The grim toll puts Cyprus in third place in Europe - behind Greece and Portugal, which came first -- in road deaths, with around 17 to 18 deaths per 100,000 residents. The European Union average is 12 per 100,000.
The age groups with the most fatalities were 15 to 24, followed by 60 years and over.
Only 15 per cent of those killed over the past five years were wearing seatbelts.
The offenders were shown slides of accidents, with Demetriou explaining what had happened in each case. In one, a 42-year-old woman was killed after slamming into a tree just 72 metres from her home.
“How much acceleration could she have only 72 metres from her starting point?” Demetriou said. “She would probably be alive today if she had been wearing her belt.”
And then there were the bikers. Between 1997 and 2001 there were 173 dead motorcyclists and pillion passengers, Demetriou said. “Only 22 were wearing helmets.”
He revealed that half of the motorcyclists killed were under 25 years old.
The group was shown a picture of a pool of blood from the head of a youngster killed when his moped was hit by a car. The collision had not been severe, but it had knocked him off his moped and his head hit the tarmac.
Demetriou used more shock tactics, displaying on screen and reading out loud simultaneously the names and ages of 31 young people aged between 15 and 25, killed on the roads in the past year.
The drivers were then shown a film displaying the profile of the typical Cypriot driver. It was shot round Nicosia and shows car and motorcycle drivers breaking every rule in the book.
Demetriou told the drivers that they should wear seatbelts for their own safety, not because they were going to be booked if caught. “There would be 30 to 40 fewer people dead if everyone wore seatbelts and helmets,” he said.
Papas used one astonishing statistic to explain the consequences of drink driving. Between 10 and 15 million people were injured each year around the world because of booze, he said. Around 700,000 were killed -- the equivalent of seven Boeing 747s crashing every day.
“But no matter how many laws are passed, or how many penalties are imposed, if there is no co-operation with the public, nothing can be done,” Papas said.
The offenders were also shown a series of Australian-made films, displaying real accident scenes, emergency room drama and other graphic footage. Papas said the police were trying to get permission to air it on Cyprus television.
After the lecture the officers had a candid discussion with the drivers that continued over lunch.
Achilleas Savvides, a professional driver with Taxi Express, who has collected 11 points, said it was a good seminar that needed to be repeated frequently.
Savvides collected 10 of his points by speeding, but now he said his company had installed accelerator cut-offs on its vehicles so they cannot exceed 115kph.
One young man complained that the police were always chasing him because of a noisy exhaust, for which he has already notched up some 10 points.
Papas explained that noisy exhausts were illegal, although the man still insisted police were out to get him.
“We don't want to play cops and robbers with citizens,” Papas said.
When he asked the man why he had not complied with the law, he said he did not have enough time because of his work.
Papas then offered to have a police officer drive his car to the garage to have the problem solved, but the matter ended there.
Another man thought the lecture was a good thing, but he thought there should be more police on the streets and that officers should be more assertive and professional in performing their duties.
He told the Sunday Mail that he was caught speeding once, and despite having had a drink too many, the officer did not notice. And he certainly wasn't going to own up to it.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 What Ecevit said to CleridesPRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides said yesterday the Turkish Prime Minister had told him in Spain that it was time for the Cyprus problem to be solved.
Speaking to reporters after his arrival from the European Union summit in Barcelona, Clerides said that Bulent Ecevit had approached him and extended his hand for a handshake just before entering the room where the 28 leaders of the EU member-states and candidate countries were meeting.
During the brief exchange, Ecevit said that “it is time for the Cyprus problem to be solved,” Clerides said.
Clerides declined to comment on the gesture, adding that it was normal for two leaders to shake hands when they met at such meetings.
“If I got close to him first I would have extended my hand to him as he did, because it is not agreeable for Europe when state leaders meet and do not at least shake hands,” the President said.
Clerides said the EU meeting had discussed issues like the future of Europe, labour problems, the development of new technology, and other matters relating to Europe's economic future.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 News in brief
Family flees house fireA FAMILY escaped unscathed after a fire destroyed their country home in a Nicosia district village, police said yesterday
The blaze started at around 5.10pm on Friday while Costas Pittakas was trying to light the fireplace.
Police said Pittakas apparently used too much flammable liquid, causing an explosion.
Flames burst from the fireplace and engulfed the fuel container, and the fire quickly took hold.
Pittakas grabbed his wife and seven-year-old son and abandoned the burning house.
By the time the blaze was put out by the fire service the house had already been gutted.
Arson chargeA 25-year-old man has been charged in connection with an arson attack on a car belonging to a Georgian man living in Nicosia, police said yesterday.
The fire was noticed early on Friday afternoon while the car was parked on Sans Souci Street.
CID officers investigating the case later arrested a man who allegedly admitted to torching Manolis Bolianides' car. He was charged and released, police said.
Damage to the car was estimated at £450.
Trawler accidentA POLICE helicopter was scrambled yesterday to airlift a Syrian sailor to hospital after three of his fingers were severed while he was working on a fishing trawler off the Cape Greco area in Famagusta.
The call for help was received at 10.20am, and 20 minutes later the helicopter arrived at the scene.
The 25-year-old Syrian was then flown to Larnaca hospital for treatment.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002