Improving road safety standards is one of the government's top priorities for 2014, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou stated on Monday.
Nicolaou said the authorities will be implementing an integrated, multi-faceted approach to road safety with an emphasis on education and public awareness initiatives as well as the targeting of high-risk behaviour drivers.
"Road consciousness just like all other good practices in life must be taught from an early age," said Nicolaou. "We have no doubt that prevention is the most effective way to sensitise the public over this very serious problem."
The minister said it is unfortunate that Cyprus still has the second highest rate of youth road deaths in the EU, something the authorities plan to change in the future. "Road fatalities in Cyprus were reduced by almost half in 2013 bringing us close to the EU's target to reduce road deaths by almost 50% by the year 2010."
But according to Nicolaou, for the number of road deaths in Cyprus to be reduced even further efforts must be made by society as a whole and not just the police.
"Our goal is not to force drivers to comply with the road rules but to make safe driving a routine part of everyday life," said Nicolaou.
"We must teach our children the correct rules of the road but also set a good example by encouraging alternative modes of transport."
Punishment, according to the minister, is a last resort for lawmakers who are focusing on improving relationships between the police and the public for better results.
"The state acknowledges that excessively strict policing and constant reprimanding do not always encourage drivers to conform with road regulations. For this reason we have extended our warnings system to give motorists a chance to comply with the rules."
So far this year, the 39 fatal crashes have claimed 42 lives in Cyprus.