Aging cars and trucks on roads

At a time when the government is mulling the idea of offering financial incentives to get old vehicles off the country’s roads, Kathimerini can reveal that Greece has one of the lowest rates of car renewals in Europe, while the average age of Greek trucks is 18 years. According to the Association of Car Importers, only 1.5 percent of cars in Greece are taken out of circulation each year, whereas most European countries get rid of about 6 percent of their cars annually. In Sweden, a fifth of the total number of cars is withdrawn. Apart from the implications for pollution and safety, the low percentage of cars being withdrawn combined with the number of new cars coming onto the roads means that congestion is increasing. Athens’s roads were designed to accommodate some 430,000 cars, whereas there are actually 2.4 million vehicles in circulation in the city. Car sales in Greece dropped by 4.5 percent (some 280,000 vehicles) last year compared to 2006. The number of old trucks on the roads is also a cause for concern as these vehicles are responsible for 40 percent of road accidents in Greece. Figures show that 17 percent of trucks are between 16 and 20 years old, 15 percent between 21 and 25, while another 25 percent is over 25 years old. Some 70 percent of used trucks currently on Greek roads are in public rather than private use. The government is considering introducing an incentive scheme for owners to trade cars which have been on the road for 15 years or more for new ones. The Transport Ministry is said to be having a close look at the program used in Cyprus, which offers several levels of incentives. People simply taking their car out of circulation receive a cash payment of between 172 and 516 euros. Those trading it for a new car receive a bonus of 1,290 to 1,720 euros. The scheme costs the Cypriot government 8.6 million euros a year. The most recent figures in Greece show that some 1.5 million of the 5.4 million cars in circulation are more than 15 years old.