NEWS

Drunks at wheels of most trucks

A determined drive to improve Greece’s embarrassingly high road accident figures has already exceeded its targets three years into the five-year program, officials said yesterday. In 2003, Public Order Minister Giorgos Floridis told a press conference, there were 23.6 percent fewer road deaths than in 2000 – 1,607 people died, compared to 2,103 four years ago. When the five-year «En Route» road safety program was launched in 2001, its target was an overall 20 percent reduction in road deaths. However, although deaths fell sharply in 2001 and 2002, last year the reduction rate was only 3.8 percent. Police hope to see a further 5 percent drop in 2004. Greece still has the worst road safety figures in the European Union. Floridis said the success so far was due to increased traffic police vigilance for drink-driving, speeding and drivers not wearing safety belts or crash helmets. He said checks on truckdrivers had been particularly effective, with 5,545 of the 9,524 truckers stopped last year for a breathalyzer test found to be over the legal limit for alcohol.