Driving in Greece, what is it really like? Generally speaking, Greek drivers are not the best in Europe, but there are worse. Here are some useful tips in order to make your driving experience as pleasant as possible
The first and most important one is to just be alert. This will keep you safe on the road 99.99% of the time. Don't just look at the car in front of you when you are driving. Also look through his wind-shield at the car in front of him. You will soon develop quicker reactions and a sixth sense for when someone is going to do something unorthodox.
Care needs to be taken on roundabouts, because it seems that the rule is the person who drives most aggressively, regardless of whether they are already on the roundabout or entering it, is the one who has priority.
Unlike many countries, when another driver flashes his headlights at you, he is not letting you pass, he is warning you that he is coming and to stay out of the way. The same goes for when someone honks their horn. If someone is letting you pass, they will usually wave you through with their hand.
In built-up areas, go carefully through crossroads, because people do not always respect stop signs and may also have their view of you blocked by cars parked right on the street corner.
When the lights turn green do not move off without checking that there are no latecomers coming from another junction. When I first started driving here, I thought that people had a slow reaction time when the lights turn green but now I just think they are being careful. Why hurry?
There are lanes but these can get blurred in certain places so keep your eyes on the car in front of you. There is especially a lack of lane discipline at night. The double lines in the middle of the road mean no-passing just like at home but don't be surprised to see someone else passing in fact they may be coming right towards you. Just take it to mean that you should not pass and that you should be extra alert for someone who is passing from the opposite direction because the rule does not apply to them. When driving on the National Road and in the countryside remember the advice of George the Famous Taxi Driver: Keep to the right. Some Greek drivers do not like to be told what to do and they see the double white centre line as a challenge to them to cross it and assert their individuality.
If you decide to stop when the light turns orange be aware that the guy behind you may have already decided he is going to go through it and brace yourself. That does not mean that you should race through yellow lights to avoid being rear-ended. It means you should slow down and it means you should definitely not decide at the last instant not to go through. Make your decision early. It is better to have the guy behind you swearing at you than on top of you.
Motorbikes don't obey any lanes or rules and there is usually one or more somewhere nearby. Motorcycles are responsible for the greatest number of accident victims in Greece.
Watch out for people opening their doors without looking while parked or double parked. Expect the unexpected
In the mountains and rural areas, driving can be treacherous due to narrow roads, blind curves, and unprotected embankments sometimes on the edge of 1000 foot cliffs that fall to the sea, or even worse, the ground. Watch out for people parked in unbelievable places like when you come around a mountain bend and someone is relieving himself or taking a picture of his girlfriend while his car is parked halfway in the road.
If you have never driven in mountains before you may want to practice using your gears to downshift and reduce your speed instead of using your brakes and then not having any when you need to actually stop.
Always wear your seatbelt. If you have toddlers ask the rental agency for a car seat before you leave home and if they don't have one, bring one. Kids under 18 years old are not allowed to drive. Children under 10 must sit in the back seat.
The Speed limit in Greece is 100-120 kmph on highways unless otherwise posted and 50 kmph in residential areas unless otherwise posted. Most road signs are pictures that are pretty self explanatory.
Gas stations are common but be aware that in many cases they don't accept credit cards.
There is an Emergency Line for Visitors to Greece: Dial 112 for information in English, French and Greek regarding ambulance services, fire brigade, police and the coast guard
Fines are strict for breaking traffic laws in Greece. Running a red light or ignoring a stop sign is 700 euros. Not using a seatbelt in a car or wearing a helmet on a motorbike is a fine of 350 euros. Talking on a mobile phone without a hands-free kit is 100 euros. Driving under the influence depends on how you score on the breathalyser and can be from 200 to 1200 euros. Most of these fines also come with a loss of license for 10 days to 6 months.
If you happen to break the law and get a ticket (rare) police may not speak your language. Even if they do arguing with them is useless and not recommendable. If you do not agree, just take the ticket, go to the traffic police station and talk to the chief and if you are lucky he will speak English. You should also call the rental agency and ask them to help you because if you leave it is just as likely that the police will come after them too. Remember that no matter how outrageous the fine seems you can pay half price by paying it within 5 days.