Cabinet on Friday approved a steep rise in penalties and fines for traffic offences as part of efforts to stem the bloodshed on the island’s roads.
Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said that the draft bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for approval.
The fine for speeding will quintuple while that for failure to wear a seat belt will jump more than four times.
Nicolaou said that the out of court fine for speeding will quintuple from €1 for each kilometre over the speed limit to €5.
Use of a mobile phone while driving will be punishable with a fine of €300 from the current €85. And drivers caught without a seat belt will pay €300. The fine currently stands at €85.
The steeper fines also cover failure to wear a helmet, to stop at a red light and for parking at a pedestrian crossing or a disabled parking spot where the fine will rise from €85 to €200.
“The increase in the fines aims to work as a deterrent. We have introduced in the law a combination of offences such as speeding while under the influence of alcohol. Such cases must bear the full weight of the law,” he said.
The minister said abandoning the scene of an accident was inexcusable. In the event someone dies as a result of such an accident, the penalty will be for manslaughter. “We can’t have the penalties of two or three years in jail that we have now,” he said.
In the case of some serious offences, provision will be made for the suspect to be taken to court within 24 hours where a request will be made for a suspension of the suspect’s driving licence. For driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the vehicle will be impounded.
The minister said that authorities have carried out a number of information campaigns, particularly focusing on young people and have taken a series of other measures to improve road behaviour.
“But there is a need for more drastic measures such as the increase in penalties. This will send the correct message,” he said.
The bill, which was drawn up after consultations with stakeholders and the House Transport Committee, will now be sent to the House of Representatives for approval.