When driving in Cyprus you must assume full responsibility for your own safety. Remember that some drivers may not be capable and competent.
You must take into account the fact that Cyprus has very many tourists. It is their nature to be relaxed, often looking around at the scenery, or maybe even lost. They are also likely to be driving vehicles that they are unfamiliar with. They may not be concentrating fully on their driving and as a result may well make driving decisions and act in a way that they would not contemplate when driving at home.
Many Cypriot drivers have been brought up in a totally different driving environment than many Europeans. Their training and knowledge was adequate at one time for the environment that they had to operate in. Unfortunately the training has remained static while the remainder of Cyprus progresses. You should expect that some of the decisions some drivers make can seem to you unreasoned and irrational.
The inconsistent way the road network has been expanded does not help matters.
We will identify some common faults and advise you what you might do if confronted by them.
In the E.U the signing and operation of roadworks are governed by strict rules. Failure to comply with, for example, the correct number and siting of cones, advanced warning signs etc. by the site operator can lead to closing the site down and to fines.
Cyprus does not yet employ European standards at roadworks. The signing is often very haphazard and can direct you into danger. The workmen themselves seem to lack road sense and put themselves in danger. Treat roadworks with extreme caution. Slow right down or stop if necessary until you are sure that your planned route is safe. Do not just follow other drivers through until you are entirely happy.
Currently Paphos has a high number of poorly surfaced roads and roadworks. This is primarily due to the installation of a new sewage system.
Traffic lights and junctions
Cyprus traffic light sequencing and rules will be familiar to most people. However, many local drivers will drive over the white line and well into the junction before stopping. They may not stop at all. Failing to comply with the red light is a common occurrence.
Do not assume that if your light is green it is safe to go. Always treat traffic light controlled junctions with extreme caution.
An inability of drivers to accurately judge the speed of approaching vehicles and poor judgement, often manifests itself by vehicles pulling out in front of you from side roads and parking areas at inappropriate times.
Bear in mind that causing you to slowdown, swerve or stop are considered normal by many locals trying to get out of a junction or crossing your path.
Tailgating and overtaking
The inability to judge speed and the lack of knowledge on the handling and acceleration characteristics of their own vehicle often lead to inappropriate or dangerous overtaking. If you see someone travelling behind you who you think will overtake, the chances are they will. Be aware that the driver will not necessarily wait until it is safe to do so.
This may be preceded by a period of tailgating.
Dealing with a tailgater:
You must try to remain objective and create space by dropping even further back from the vehicle in front of you. This will allow you even more time and space to react should the need arise.
Your vehicle should be in the safest position on the road having regard to all the hazards that you can see, to those you can't see and those that may reasonably be expected to be there. If possible you should dominate the road so that an overtaker has to make conscious and serious effort to overtake you. Then, if appropriate and when a suitable opportunity arises, allow the vehicle behind to pass you. By using good judgement you could save lives and keep in control of the space around you.
RoADAR has identified a number of junctions in the Paphos are which are incorrectly marked and signed. The local municipalities and police are very keen to rectify these faults but it will take time. In the meantime we suggest that you take extra care approaching all junctions with closed views, whether you appear to have priority on the main road or not.
When exiting from a side road, ensure you can see and that other drivers can see you. If you can't, edge out slowly to get your view. Vehicles often travel at excessive speeds on narrow roads.
As with red traffic lights, stop signs and solid white centre lines are widely disregarded. Ensure that you can change course, slow or stop if necessary.
The overriding message we wish to convey is that you should not take anything for granted and assume that any sign in your favour will be complied with.
OUR TOP 12 SAFETY TIPS
It is proven that wearing seat belts save lives and reduces the risk of serious injury. It will soon be law to wear a belt in both the front and back, so get into the habit now. As the driver, insist that your passengers 'buckle up'.
Build a space cushion of safety all around your vehicle, to the front, rear and sides, by constantly adjusting your speed and position to maximise the distance between yourself and other vehicles. Dominate your own road position so tailgaters must pass you safely or not at all.
Drive observing the maximum and minimum speed limits set by law, and drive at a speed in which you are able to stop safely, on your own side of the road and in the distance you can see to be clear.
Do not overtake:
at or approaching a junction,
on the left, unless the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right, and you can overtake on the left safely,
on, or anywhere near a pedestrian crossing.
As you approach a pedestrian crossing, slow down and be prepared to stop to allow pedestrians to cross. Scan both sides of the crossing as you approach. DO NOT wave pedestrians across, as this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching. It is illegal to park on the zigzag lines either side of the crossing
Look ahead and scan with your eyes to get the full picture, not fixing your vision on anything for more than two seconds. Constantly check your mirrors and also your blind spots when moving off and changing lanes.
Keep both hands on the wheel at either the quarter-to-three or ten-to-two position, unless it is necessary to operate a control or to give a hand signal. Use the 'pull-push' method where you can make changes in direction smoothly. Always keep at least one hand on the wheel. Do not use a mobile phone while driving.
Stop completely at 'stop' signs, pausing to scan the junction with your eyes. If stopping behind another vehicle you must stop again at the white line.
Follow the safety rules for reversing:
Avoid reversing if possible. Parking in a position which doesn't require you to reverse.
Scan as you reverse.
Travel only a sufficient distance to enable you to move forward.
If your vision is obscured, ask someone to assist you.
Remain alert and combat fatigue by making sure you are not tired before you start your journey. Take frequent rest breaks. Get out of the car and walk around before continuing. Share the driving if other drivers are available and legal. Do not continue beyond your safety limit.
SUFFICIENT JOURNEY TIME
Leave sufficient time for your journey allowing for traffic and weather conditions. Leaving late tends to result in excessive speed, fines and accidents.
Before you start to drive you should ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy. Know, and put into practise your cockpit and 'P.O.W.E.R.' checks.
This article is courtesy of the Advanced Driving Road Safety Network