NEWS

Motorcyclists at risk on Greek roads

Speeding and running red lights and stop signs are the main causes of fatal accidents involving motorcycles in Greece, according to traffic police data seen by Kathimerini recently, which indicate that from the beginning of the year until the end of July, 203 motorcyclists lost their lives on the country?s roads.

In 22.6 percent of these cases, the cause is given as speeding or running red lights, although no information is provided as to whether it was the victims who were at fault.

Just under half of the fatalities, or 44 percent, occurred in crashes involving motorbikes or scooters and other vehicles, predominantly cars, while motorcycle crash fatalities make up 35 percent of all crash victims in the seven-month period, which came to 587 deaths.

The data also point to the fact that a high percentage of motorcycle fatalities are young people aged up to 25 years old. The number of victims aged 25 or under in the January-July period came to 57, or 28 percent of the total, while among them 16 were under the age of 17.

Most of the accidents happened in urban areas, especially in Attica, where 32 percent of a total of 86 crashes in urban areas occurred.

Of the total 203 fatalities, 13 occurred on main thoroughfares such as Vouliagmenis, Poseidonos and Mesogeion avenues, and Iera Odos and Kallirois Street. Other crashes occurred on secondary roads and three on the Attiki Odos highway, though the data reveal that one of the most dangerous stretches of road in Attica for motorcyclists is Kifissou Avenue, which stretches from Neo Faliro on the southern coast to the northern suburbs.

In total, the national highway network saw 35 motorcyclist fatalities in the same seven-month period, while a large number of fatalities were also recorded on the islands, where 37 motorcyclists lost their lives. The worst numbers came from Crete, Corfu, Kos and Rhodes, where during the summer months visitors with little knowledge of how to drive two-wheeled vehicles especially on a rudimentary road network — rent motorcycles and scooters.

The figures show that the greatest number of fatalities occur during the summer months; among these, most happen at night, with 44 motorcyclists, or 21.6 percent of the total, having died between midnight and 7 a.m. in the January-July period.

The numbers show a small decrease compared to 2010, when the same period saw 236 fatalities across the country.

However, Greece ranks above all its European peers for road deaths and the number of two-wheeled vehicles per driver, according to data published by the European Commission. The ratio of residents to motorcycles in Greece is 1,000:100, the biggest in the European Union, while fatalities stand at 39 motorcyclists for every million citizens.

The number is much higher compared to Italy, where the fatalities-to-residents ratio stands at 23:1 million, France (17.3:1 million), Portugal (17:1 million) and Spain (14.7:1 million).

In the rest of the EU, fatal accidents involving motorbikes make up 17.7 percent of all road deaths, whereas in Greece the percentage is close to 40 percent, making Greece one of the most dangerous countries in the bloc for motorcyclists.