Greeks fail to belt up in cars

Less than half of car drivers and only a fifth of their passengers wear seat belts, transport engineers said yesterday, maintaining that a reduction in the number of road accidents was linked more to an increase in traffic rather than stricter policing. Greece has one of the worst road safety records in Europe and the government this year unveiled stiffer penalties for driving offenses. Under the new rules, the fine for not wearing a seat belt will be between 175 and 350 euros. Drivers will also have their license revoked for 10 days and be given five penalty points. A conference on road safety heard that only 40 percent of Greek drivers wear a seat belt and even fewer passengers (20 percent) fasten their belts after getting into a car. The head of the Hellenic Institute of Transportation Engineers, Yiannis Handanos, said that a 20 percent drop in car crashes between 2000 and 2005 had little to do with policing or town planning and more with the fact that the number of cars on the roads had risen dramatically, causing the average speed in cities to drop.

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