Deaths on roads prompt action

The Public Order Ministry is in the process of setting up a special task force to help improve safety on the country’s highways, where nearly a third of the 1,500 road deaths last year were attributable to alcohol. A senior police source told Kathimerini yesterday that the teams, to be called the Control and Prevention of Traffic Accidents Force (OEPTA), will aim at reducing the number of dangerous violations on highways. Attica will be equipped with two teams of 25 officers belonging to OEPTA, while Thessaloniki will have two squads of 15 each. It is likely that these officers will be employed exclusively for this purpose, the source said. «The officers will need to have specialized knowledge in order to monitor all road infringements, such as those relating to overloaded trucks,» he added. Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras, who took over the ministry in the February cabinet reshuffle, has said that reducing the large number of road deaths will be given a high priority. The minister is faced with a difficult task given that Greece’s roads are considered to be among the most dangerous in Europe. Badly constructed roads along with poor policing and reckless driving resulted in 1,470 people killed in Greece in 2005. Ministry data shows that 28 percent of fatal road accidents are attributable to alcohol consumption.