The first ever moving vehicle to be imported into Cyprus was a black steam engine or locomotive in 1892. The man that brought it to the island wanted to drive it from Larnaca to Nicosia but the device was very unreliable and kept breaking down on the side of the road, letting off huge amounts of thick, black smoke.
Cyprus has come a long way since then in creating a very good roads infrastructure, and the work is ongoing, with new upgrades and road constructions planned. Motorways (sometimes referred to as highways) mostly have 4 lanes, i.e. 2 per direction, whilst main roads / intercity roads mostly have 2 lanes, 1 per direction, however there are a few exceptions.
Cyprus does have speed limits which are often ignored by locals. On motorways the minimum speed is 65 Km, whilst the maximum is 80km or 100 Km. Built up areas generally have a maximum speed of 50 Km, but areas near schools etc are often 30 Km. Speed limits are set for the safety of all, please do not ignore them.
The standard of driving in Cyprus is still poor, even though the authorities report improved driving standards. Road signs and traffic signals are still often ignored, speeding is still a big problem, as well as drink driving and boy racers. However, Cyprus has seen a yearly reduction for road deaths and injuries, with official statistics showing that for the year 2008 there were a total of 82 road deaths, in 2009 there were 89 road deaths, for 2010 there were 60 road deaths, for 2011 there were 71 road deaths, for 2012 there were 51 road deaths, for 2013 there were 44 road deaths, and for 2014 there were 45 road deaths. For the year 2015, our own unofficial tally is at 57 road deaths. We will update this with the official number when it is confirmed.
Many foreigners adopt the attitude of ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’; however this exacerbates the problem, and will never solve it. Road deaths on this scale will continue until we all realise that speed, alcohol and negligence kills.
Cyprus signed the European Road Safety Charter, the aim of which was to halve fatal road accidents by 2010. The 6-year Strategic Plan for Road Safety in Cyprus (2005-2010) did have a small effect on reducing road deaths, especially in under 25 year olds.
A new Strategic Plan for the period 2011-2020 has commenced, with the former Minister of Communications and Works and Chairman of the Road Safety Council Erato Kozakou Marcoullis declaring 2011 as Year of Road Safety against driving under the influence of alcohol, with the motto “Driving and alcohol do not match: Say no to alcohol”, however it didn't have much effect as road deaths increased by 18% for 2011.
You must be 17 and a half years of age or older to obtain a provisional drivers license in Cyprus, and you must be accompanied by an experienced driver age 35 or older who has held a full driving license for at least 5 years. The same applies to provisional license holders aged 18, however the accompanying person may be 25 years of age.
If you are moving to Cyprus and you have a UK provisional licence you can now take driving lessons using your UK provisional licence. After you have lived in Cyprus six months, you need to exchange your UK provisional licence for a Cypriot provisional licence, before you are able to take the driving test. Download free information (in pdf format, may not be compatible with mobile devices) about learning to drive in Cyprus. The information is provided free courtesy of a reputable british driving instuctor who operates a driving school in Cyprus.
There are many road/traffic offences incorporated into Cyprus law, too many to list here, but here are few that you may not have been aware of, and the corresponding penalty.
Smoking in private motor vehicle with a person under the age of sixteen in the vehicle. - fine €85
Parking facing other than in the direction of traffic flow. This applies at any time day or night even if it is in a permitted parking place. - fine €85
Driver who is in an irregular position inside the vehicle or raises his hand from the steering wheel unnecessarily. - fine €25
Passengers not sitting in fixed seats, obstructs or interferes with the normal operation of the vehicle or is making signs or gestures could be seen as traffic signals - fine €25
Unnecessary reversing - fine €25
Unnecessary use of horn in built up areas - fine €25
The main motorways in Cyprus are;
A1 Nicosia - Limassol
A2 Nicosia - Larnaca
A3 Larnaca Airport - Ayia Napa
A5 Larnaca – Limassol
A6 Limassol – Paphos
A7 Paphos – Polis
A8 Limassol - Saittas
A9 Nicosia - Astromeritis
A22 Nicosia 3rd Ring road
Road speed cameras used to be fitted around Cyprus with fines made on road traffic offenders, however due to technical problems the cameras were removed. A new network of road speed cameras were to be in operation again around Cyprus during 2012, but this did not transpire. The latest announcement was that speed cameras will be operational again by the end of 2015.
Road signs are generally easy to identify, and reading them should be no problem due to them being written in Greek and English.
Roads leading up to the higher regions of Troodos mountains may be closed in winter due to snow or ice, often at such times only 4 wheel drive vehicles or vehicles fitted with snow chains will be allowed to reach the highest parts.