NEWS

Worrying spike in road accidents

Traffic police officers are alarmed by a sharp rise in serious road accidents over the last two months, with the number of people being killed in crashes almost doubling during the summer. According to figures released yesterday, there were 228 fatal accidents on Greek roads this July, compared to a total of 616 in the preceding six months. The number of road accidents in August shows no sign of abating, and after having believed they had overseen an improvement in road safety, the traffic police are now being forced to rethink their tactics. Although millions of cars leave Athens in August and the city streets become emptier, highways and country roads are much busier than usual. The empty Athens streets often lead to drivers upping their speed and exercising less care. Equally, the increased number of cars on national and country roads often makes for more dangerous conditions. So far this month, 115 people have been killed in 97 road accidents around the country. In Attica, there have been 82 accidents this month in which 10 people were killed. During August, 218 drivers were charged with drunk driving while 1,243 were pulled over for breaking the speed limit. The traffic police say that the main cause of accidents is a loss of concentration on the part of drivers, followed by illegal overtaking and speeding. According to figures collected so far this year, the Athens-Patras highway has proved the most dangerous national road with 42 deaths to date. The busy road is due for an overhaul after a deal was signed earlier this month to improve the stretch between Corinth and Patras.