NEWS

Drive for safer roads paying off

In the past two years alone, a five-year road safety campaign launched in 2001 has already exceeded its final target of reducing fatal accidents by 20 percent, government officials said yesterday. Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis told journalists there were 260 fewer road deaths in 2002 than in 2001, while the total number of fatal traffic accidents declined 15.1 percent. The reduction compared to 2000 was 22.1 percent, while the overall target of the «En Route: 2001-2005» program was to reduce fatal traffic accidents by 20 percent. Compared to 2001, last year there 18.8-percent fewer severe accidents and 14.3-percent fewer slight accidents, Chrysochoidis said. For this year, the target is a further 5-percent fall in injuries. Deputy Interior Minister Lambros Papadimas said municipal and local authorities would be given 9 million euros in 2003 for road safety improvements, while Deputy Public Works Minister Yiannis Tsaklidis promised to spend 65 million euros on road maintenance and improvement, and another 100 million for upgrading the tarmac on highways.