A staggering 41,554 cars were reported as having a road accident in North Cyprus in 2015, according to insurance companies. The figure is included in a report newly released by the TRNC Insurance Association, which details the human and material cost of car accidents in North Cyprus last year.
According to the report, the bill for repairs and other insurance payouts for the year topped TL 53 million (over £13 million). It also states there were a total of 611 accidents in 2015, which involved personal injuries. Of these, 24 crashes were fatal, resulting in the deaths of 28 people.
With a population of 300,000, the traffic-related death rate in the TRNC is among one of the worst in Europe, registering 9.3 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. In comparison, 2013 figures for the UK, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark – among the safest in Europe for driving – averaged at just 3.45 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, while south Cyprus has nearly half the TRNC rate at 5.2 deaths.
İbrahim Kaçın, the General Secretary of the TRNC Insurance Association, acknowledged the TRNC statistics are extremely high: “Every year in our country, even if it’s a small one, one in three people are involved in a [car] accident.”
And there is no slow-down in the accident rate for 2016, with 9,836 traffic incidents reported in the first three months of the year.
Kaçın believes the bulk of responsibility lies with driver errors, but also feels the poor state of the TRNC’s roads and its traffic infrastructure play a considerable role in the overly high number of accidents.
He points to EU countries which have made significant investment into improving their road traffic systems. These initiatives also involve pooling the expertise of all stakeholders, including insurance companies, and the end result has seen traffic mortality and accident rates fall to a third of the TRNC.
TRNC road users risk their lives every time they venture out in North Cyprus
According to Kaçın, there is an over-reliance by the authorities on speed cameras in North Cyprus, which are not in themselves going to resolve the underlying issues. Using the weekly traffic reports issued by TRNC police to illustrate how dire the situation is, the General Secretary said:
“Typically, every week we see news that 700 cars were stopped and 300-odd drivers were fined. That means a large percentage of those stopped are guilty of a driving offence. Topping the list [of offences] are speeding and [use of] mobile telephones [whilst driving], and so it’s very clear that we are not going to resolve these issues by just fines.”
Dr Mehmet Avcı, head of the Association for the Prevention of Road Traffic Accidents, concurs telling media that TRNC road users risk their lives every time they venture out in North Cyprus, “If you’re on the road, you’re in danger.”
Main photo: GunlukKibris.com