Roads share blame in fatalities

Poorly built transport networks play a part in Greece’s roads remaining among the most dangerous in the European Union, an industry expert told Kathimerini, as the government awards contracts to companies but often fails to monitor the quality of the highway once it is finished. Vassilis Psarianos, head of the Road Safety Observatory, said that poor road planning is also largely responsible for the high number of traffic infringements committed. «The Environment Ministry’s specifications state that each road should provide drivers with the ability to pass for at least 20 percent of the length of the road. However, in the best case scenario this is only available for 8.5 percent of the journey,» Psarianos said. Government officials have been looking for ways to reduce the high number of people killed or hurt on the country’s roads each year. Road accidents annually claim 1,500 lives with 4,000 people grievously injured. Fatalities from traffic accidents have decreased 26 percent since 1998 but Greece is still the fourth to last country among the 25 EU members on matters of road safety. «In Greece, modern (road) specifications were set recently (2002-2005) but they are still few and not sufficient,» said Psarianos. With the help of EU funds, Greece has been spending enormous amounts of money since 1986 on upgrading its infrastructure. However, much of this money appears not to have been well spent. One of the most notorious cases is a tunnel that formed part of the Corinth-Tripolis highway which never operated as planned because the contractor did not properly align the two exits. Instead one tunnel is used to serve both directions on the highway, making driving on the segment very dangerous.