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Society

Greek Police Go After Drunk Drivers Again, Find Speeders Too

October 30, 2019

ATHENS – It hasn’t worked yet, but with the new New Democracy government saying it won’t tolerate open lawlessness on Greek roads, police during the weekend leading into Oxi Day were back out with checks for drunk drivers.

Alcohol tests conducted on 1,919 drivers on from Oct. 26-28 on busy roads and near bars and restaurants showed that 281 of them were under the influence but there were no reports on whether any were arrested or required out of their vehicles.

Fines were given 19 drivers for running red lights, 204 for speeding, 22 for not wearing seat belts, 29 for not having car insurance and 22 for using their mobiles while driving, said Kathimerini in a report on the crackdown.

In addition, 42 motorcyclists were fined for not wearing a helmet. Overall, traffic police removed 304 license plates from vehicles and suspended 110 driving licenses.

Letter from Athens

“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 earlier.

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.

There were 1,026 road fatalities in Greece in 2016, the latest year for which data was available, or three every day in a country with 11 million people,

smaller than the New York City metropolitan area. That’s 9.2 per every 100,000 people.

Trying to keep his word, Mitsotakis’ government earlier in October had police go out and enforce traffic laws that are obeyed as much as the No Smoking laws, which means just about not at all and no one cares until it affects them.

Traffic police recorded more than 6,300 violations of the highway code in a nationwide crackdown, inspecting 34,173 vehicles from Oct. 14-20 and recording 6,342 violations. Most – 5,418 were for speeding while 924 were what is called driving under the influence of alcohol.

A recent report detailing how unsafe it is for tourists to drive in Greece noted lax laws. “Greece presents two contrasting pictures,” Evangelos Bellos, the report’s lead author and Vice-President of Make Roads Safe Hellas, told Forbes. It’s a prime tourism destination, hosting almost 30 million tourists per year, “and one of the worst performing countries in terms of road safety” in the EU.

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