Good drivers ‘a dangerous exception’

Greeks are bad drivers who also ignore the rules of the road, contributing to one of the worst death rates in the European Union, according to a study of a decade’s worth of accidents statistics by the National First Aid Center (EKAB). More than 80 percent of accidents are caused mainly by bad driver behavior, which includes speeding, drinking, not wearing a seat belt, ignoring the right of way and driving in a state of great tension, said Ioannis Papadopoulos, director of EKAB’s accident prevention department. Papadopoulos noted that a kind of illegal legality existed in the way Greeks drive – the driver who heeds the law is likely to cause an accident because he or she will constitute a dangerous exception to the way everyone else is driving. Another irony, he said, was that big new cars became deathtraps for drivers who felt that their new vehicle made them immune to the effects of bad driving. The analysis of statistics between 1988 and 1998 showed that Greece does not have many accidents compared with other countries but, with Portugal, it has the highest number of deaths in the EU. From 1988 to 1998 the number of road fatalities increased by 147 percent. Most accidents occurred in the Athens region, but in 1999 the heaviest fatality rates were recorded in the regions of Epirus, Thrace and Crete (with 20, 16 and 18 deaths per 100 accidents, respectively). Drivers and passengers aged 15-24 had a higher accident rate than others, with 80 percent of deaths resulting from accidents. Alcohol is a primary factor in deaths. Charges should be pressed next month, and are expected to involve shipping officials as well as safety inspectors. A memorial service will be held for the Samina victims at 9.30 this morning on Paros.

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