NEWS

Stricter policing curbs road accidents

Traffic accidents have dropped considerably this year to date compared to the first eight months of last year, as a result of stricter policing of Greek roads, the traffic police said yesterday. A total of 13,452 accidents occurred between the beginning of the year and the end of August, compared to 15,653 in the corresponding period last year – a 14.1 percent decline. Fatal accidents fell 6.3 percent, while fatalities were 8 percent lower than in the first eight months of 2000. The most impressive drop came last month, when accidents fell 23 percent compared to last August, while there were 17 percent fewer deaths and 20 percent fewer fatalities and injuries. Traffic police officials said the improved statistics were due to intense surveillance of highways with extensive use of radar traps to catch speed violators, as well as round-the-clock patrols by regular and unmarked police cars. Almost twice as many speeding offenses were recorded compared to the first eight months of 2000, while fines for non-use of safety belts and crash helmets were 56 percent higher. Breathalyzer tests also increased greatly, totaling 484,817 as opposed to 214,319 in the corresponding period last year. Officers found 35,870 drivers to be over the legal alcohol limit, compared with 16,950 in 2000. But there was still a slight overall reduction in the percentage of drunk drivers per people tested – 7.4 percent over 7.9 percent in 2000. The movement by both Cyprus and Turkey toward joining the EU provides a historic opportunity for a settlement on Cyprus that will see the dividing wall now splitting the island come down, he said. Sooner or later this issue will either bring the two countries and the two peoples together or separate us, he said. We have already lived in tension for many years and now we have a chance and Turkey needs to take advantage of this or else the responsibility will belong to Turkey and only to Turkey.