Greek Drivers Among EU's Worst: Don't Wear Belts, Drink and Drive


(Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

To the surprise of no one who's driven on Greek roads, the country's drivers are among the least disciplined in the European Union, with 49 percent not wearing seat belts and 28 percent said they drive drunk.

That was the result of a survey conducted by the French foundation Autoroutes which also found that 27 percent said they unlawfully drive in the emergency break-down lanes on highways, supposed to be reserved for cars that become disabled, making them targets to be hit.

Some 71 percent said they engage in road rage and verbally abuse other drivers while 52 percent said they drive too close to vehicles ahead of them. They even engage in verbal battles with police and park on sidewalks with infrequent enforcement of road and traffic laws.

Overall, 89 percent of European drivers admitted to breaking the speed limit, with the Swedes and Germans liable to drive the fastest. The survey also showed that Northern European drivers consider their southern European counterparts (Greece, Spain and Italy) rude at the wheel.

Greece had the highest rate of deaths in the European Union in 2017, due to single-vehicle collisions (SVC), or a road accident in which only one vehicle is involved.

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) – a Brussels-based non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the numbers of road deaths and injuries in Europe – said SVCs were responsible for one- third of road fatalities in the EU in the 2013-2015 period, but 42 percent in Greece.

Mortality rates in Greece from SVCs were on average the EU’s highest, with 34 deaths per million inhabitants each year.

Some 35 percent of SVC fatalities involved motorcycle riders who are more exposed to danger compared with car and truck drivers. Greece requires motorcyclists to have a helmet, but not wear it, resulting in many driving with the helmet attached to their elbows.

SVC mortality rates are higher in the 18-24 age group, with an average of 72 deaths in Greece for every million people in this bracket, far above the average of 23 EU countries, with 38 young drivers and riders per million killed in SVCs.