Driving in Greece

How Bad Is It Really?

Driving in Greece, what is it really like? Generally speaking, Greek drivers are not the best in Europe, but there are worse – they know who they are!

I have been in driving in Greece for a while now and have witnessed many examples of bad habits on the road, which have shocked my rapidly departing British sensibilities. It is not uncommon for drivers to hoot their horns at traffic lights, even when they are still on red and to fly through red lights. There is a reason of sorts for the some of the occasions when the latter occurs. Traffic lights, even in the capital, are not remotely controlled at different times of the day to allow for changes in traffic flow. Therefore in rush hour, for example, there can be dozens of cars waiting to go through a traffic light, which stays green for only ten seconds or less. This results in stressed out drivers sneaking through on red because they are tired of waiting. I have also been surprised on more than one occasion when going down a one-way street, by someone coming at speed in the opposite direction towards me. I have decided that if I ever dent the front of my car, the next time I see someone driving the wrong way up a one-way street towards me I’ll head straight for them and let the other guy's insurance company cover it. Sounds good in theory at least.

The Greeks seem to have a disregard for their own safety to a degree that I have not seen in northern Europe – drivers and pedestrians alike. For example, watch out for Greek grannies walking down the middle of the road with their shopping. Ok, so the pavements in some places are so bad that you have to walk in the road, but it is really necessary for pedestrians to go head to head with the traffic? Seatbelts are rarely worn and children can often be seen jumping up and down on the back seat, as though they were playing in their rooms, or wedged between two adults on a motorbike. There is very much an “it will never happen to me” mentality, but the statistics show that unfortunately it does happen, every day. I always wear a seatbelt, whether I am driving or I am in someone elses car. It often raises a strange look from taxi drivers, as though you are somehow questioning their ability to drive!

A Few Road Tips

About the author:
Emmanuel Mendonca moved to Greece in 2004 and is getting to grips with his new life in Athens. He publishes Greece travel and living articles for newcomers to Athens.


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