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Society

Speed Limit Lowered On Dangerous Athens Seaside Road

ATHENS – Its roadways among the most dangerous in the European Union, speed limits on a section of a major road in the Greek capital will be cut from 80 kilometers (50 miles) an hour will be cut to 70 kilometers (43 miles) to try to cut accidents.

Attica’s Regional Authority voted to reduce the speed limit on Vouliagmenis Avenue, a main road connecting central Athens with its southern districts, between between Alimou and Poseidonos Avenues which runs along the seaside.

That came after the Authorized Regional Councilor, responsible for the Directorate of Metropolitan Infrastructure Management, Thanassis Katsigiannis, approved a study which showed by reducing the speed limit by 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) there would be a 10 percent cut in accidents with injuries and  20 percent reduction of fatalities.

It also showed that there were environmental benefits such as lower nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide emissions, lower hydrocarbon emissions, less noise, and reduced ozone formation, said Kathimerini.

The 80-kilometer speed limit was established at least 25 years ago, when there were few houses and businesses along the the road, while the rest of the avenue had retained a speed limit of 70 kilometers but the road is often a speedway.

In February, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he wanted to make Greece’s dangerous roads safer and hold down the number of deaths and accidents, presenting a National National Action Plan for Improved Road Safety.

The 450-million-euro ($528.6 million) program will be funded by the European Investment Bank and is aimed at improving more than 7,000 risky spots around the country, notorious for them.

“These are small changes that could, however, make the difference between life and death,” Mitsotakis said, the paper said about the presentation, which included driver education for the young, in schools.

“Children also affect the behavior of adults,” he said, stressing the need for a change in the culture of driving, and to make changes in the driving test system in which it’s not uncommon for bribes in return for a license.

“Many accidents… are the result of individual choices, such as consumption of alcohol, excessive speed and the fact that we don’t wear a seatbelt or helmet. Above all, we must think that changing our behavior on the road means respect for our fellow citizens and our family,” he added.

Already with a reputation for being a dangerous place to drive, Greece's record showed that in 2019 when traffic police said they issued 492,338 violations and the number of accidents rose, although fatalities fell, the data showed.

The Hellenic Police (ELAS) said of the violations almost half – 234,169 were for speeding, a common problem in the country where traffic laws are often disregarded and violators sometimes even confronting police trying to cite them.

Another 52,089 were for motorcyclists without helmets although almost none wear them and drive without being cited. Some 50,456 were for motorists driving without a license, 34,594 for not using seat belts and another 31,557 for driving drunk.

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