ATHENS – Without explaining why laws requiring the use of motorcycle helmets aren’t being enforced, Greece’s new New Democracy administration is planning instead to cut the Valued Added Tax (VAT) on the safety gear from 24 to 13 percent as an incentive for their use.
“I will not accept any deviation from the obligatory use of helmets. Just like we are implementing the anti-smoking law, we are also making it absolutely clear that the use of helmets is compulsory,” Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
He added that road safety in a country with a notoriously high fatality and motor vehicle accident rate is a high priority for him but didn’t say why police just don’t stop people not using helmets – almost nobody does – and hit them with the current penalty of 350 euros ($388.64.)
“It is unacceptable that so many people die in traffic accidents,” he said, stressing that his government is committed driver education, better road quality, as well as the rigorous implementation of the traffic code, but not apparently fining violators.
Riders who do have helmets mostly strap them around their elbows and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis was famous for tooling around helmetless on his high-charged motorcycle in violation of the law and wasn’t stopped.
So many riders don’t use helmets that one social media commentator said that if the fines were enforced that Greece could pay off its 326 billion euros ($361.99 billion) debt for three international bailouts.
The measure will be included in the next tax bill after the summer, media reports said. Greek governments are often reluctant to fine law violators in fear of losing votes and many laws in the country are just simply ignored without consequence, especially on the roads.