NEWS

Stiff fines for reckless drivers

Fines for drivers not wearing a seatbelt are set to increase by more than 400 percent according to stricter traffic rules being prepared by the Transport Ministry, while drivers who run a red light will be slapped with a hefty 700-euro penalty, sources told Kathimerini. A draft bill which has been prepared by the ministry and is likely to be submitted to Parliament in the fall, is aimed at helping the country shed its tag of having the most dangerous roads in the European Union. Passengers and drivers caught not wearing a seatbelt will have to pay 350 euros and may lose their license for 10 days as opposed to the current 83-euro fine. According to traffic police, seatbelt infringements are the most common traffic offenses among Greek drivers. The fine for running a red light will be increased to 700 euros, from 167 euros currently. Sources said that the stricter rules are likely to be implemented about four months after being approved by Parliament. Chatting on the phone while driving will only be allowed with a speaker-phone system. The fine for offenders will be increased to 100 euros from 33 euros with a possible loss of license of up to 30 days. Motorcycle riders will be up for a 150-euro fine for the same offense. Distracted drivers talking on cell phones were responsible for almost half of the deaths on the nation’s roads between August 11 and 15, recent police data showed. During the five-day period, 10 of the 21 people who died in car crashes lost their lives because drivers paid more attention to their mobile-phone conversations than the road. Badly constructed roads along with poor policing and reckless driving resulted in 1,470 people killed on the nation’s roads in 2005. Poorly built transport networks play a large role in making roads dangerous, according to industry sources, as the government awards contracts to companies but often fails to monitor the quality of the highway once it is finished. Experts also blame poor road planning as being also largely responsible for the high number of traffic infringements committed.