There was a slight drop in deaths on Greek roads over the Christmas holiday period compared to the same period in 2003 despite a significant increase in traffic, according to figures made public yesterday by the Public Order Ministry which attributed the shift to intensified road inspections. There were 65 deaths recorded between December 22 and January 9, as compared to 67 over the same period in 2003. And this is despite the fact that 1.64 million cars were recorded departing from Athens and Thessaloniki during this period – 305,217 (22.86 percent) more than the 1.33 million recorded during the same period in 2003. There were three deaths in accidents on the national highway connecting Patras to Athens and Thessaloniki, compared to 12 deaths over the same stretch of road during the same period in 2003. The drop in fatalities, despite the increase in traffic on the roads, appears to have been due to increased policing of the road network. Indeed, there were increases in all types of road violations. The number of drunk-driving offenses increased to 1,859 from 1,694 in the same period of 2003. There were 16,093 speeding offenses recorded, as opposed to 12,461 the previous year. There was a startling increase in the number of motorcyclists caught not wearing a crash helmet, with 3,926 violations recorded as compared to 1,915 during the same period in 2003. There was also a sharp increase in the number of motorists caught overtaking illegally, with 1,218 violations recorded as compared to 911 during the same period in 2003. The largest increase, however, was in the number of minor traffic violations, which rose to 22,753 compared to 8,934 in the same period of 2003. The number of motorists caught not wearing their seatbelt rose but less dramatically, with 3,920 violations recorded as compared to 3,668 during the same period in 2003. «The integrated planning but also the increased inspections conducted by the traffic police proved to be exceptionally effective as there were fewer fatal road accidents during this year’s festive season compared to that of the previous year,» Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said.