NEWS

Simitis urges Greek drivers to behave

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday paid the first visit by a head of government to the Athens traffic police headquarters in an effort to show the priority that his administration has made of increasing road safety. He was briefed on a program aimed at this that was begun in June. We all know that Greece has a terrible road accident record and we want that record to become simply a terrible memory, Simitis said, describing the initial results of the On the Way 2001-2005 program as successful. Attica’s traffic police chief Costas Tzekis said that in the first nine months of this year, road deaths were down by 5.8 percent compared to the same period in 2000, mainly due to a crackdown on violations which were seen as the major causes of accidents. Last year, 173,292 drivers were stopped for speeding and the goal for this year was to increase the number of checks by 50 percent. Already, 242,047 drivers have been stopped, and the expected total for the year was expected to be 322,000, almost double last year’s figure. The number of drunk drivers arrested increased by 121.4 percent in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period last year. As for the use of seat belts, 75,911 violations have been recorded so far this year compared to 63,061 for the same period last year. The authorities hope that by 2005, 80 percent of drivers will be wearing their belts and 70 percent of motorcyclists their helmets. The current percentages are 15 percent and 40 percent respectively.