NEWS

Empty roads safer than usual

Reduced traffic in Athens this month has tempted some drivers to be more reckless than usual but the number of accidents and road deaths so far has fallen compared to last year, police told Kathimerini. As is customary at this time of year, hundreds of thousands of cars have been parked or driven out of Athens over the last two weeks as city residents head out of town to enjoy vacations in the countryside or on the islands. This has left the normally congested roads and avenues free of traffic, especially as the odd/even license plate system to limit traffic in central Athens is not in effect during August. Police estimate that during this period, the journey from Syntagma Square in central Athens to the southern suburb of Vouliagmeni takes only 15 minutes by car, compared to at least 30 minutes at other times of the year. The lack of cars on the city’s roads can also provoke other problems, as some motorists drive faster and with less care than during other times of the year. There were 125 car crashes in Attica last week which led to six people being killed, 12 people being seriously injured and 155 suffering slight injuries. Police said that this was a higher figure than in previous weeks but lower than the number of accidents during the second week of August last year. Officers said that they were also conducting more roadside checks this year than in 2005 as they seek to clamp down on drunk driving. In addition, police have mounted a large operation to monitor national roads this month due to the large number of cars heading out of Greek cities but officers expect this Sunday to be the busiest day on the highways as many holidaymakers make their way back from the islands and the countryside.