According to wholevehicles, Greece is not an important transit country in Europe due to its eccentric location. Traditionally, it was located eccentrically in the European Union and could only be reached from the EU area with a ferry service to Italy. Since 2007, Bulgaria and Romania have been part of the EU and the country is connected to EU territory over the mainland. The country can be reached via Serbia and North Macedonia, via the E75, and if one wants to stay within EU territory, there remains a longer and slower route over the less developed main road network of Romania and Bulgaria.
The country has a number of highway connections. Traditionally, the A1 from Athens via Thessaloniki to North Macedonia was the only major highway. More recently, there was a short-term rapid construction of a motorway network, mainly consisting of the A2 through the north of the country as an east-west axis. Large parts of the country are far removed from a highway network, especially in the mountainous west and center. The Peloponnese is also connected by highways to Athens. The Greek motorway network is being expanded, especially the A5 parallel to the west coast is an important project. In the future it is planned to build an Adriatic-Ionian highway from Slovenia via Croatia,Montenegro and Albania to Greece. This project is most advanced in Croatia in the form of the A1. In Albania there are plans to build a north-south highway, and in Greece construction projects are underway for the aforementioned A5 along the west coast of the mainland. A highway is also being built from Thessaloniki to the Bulgarian capital Sofia. Parts of the Struma Highway in Bulgaria have been opened of these, and a highway to Serres on the Greek side. The development of the motorway network in Greece is mainly paid for through PPP projects and toll roadsand not with taxpayers’ money. Despite this, the development of the motorway network in the period 2008-2015 has come to an almost complete standstill. In 2015, many projects were resumed, in 2017 330 kilometers of new motorway opened.
The Greek road network was underdeveloped until the 1960s, many main roads were unpaved for a long time and there were no highways at all. In the 1950s, work began on upgrading the EO1, which would later become the A1. In the 1960s and 1970s, large parts of the EO1 were built as a high-quality motorway, which was to connect Athens with Thessaloniki. The first stretch of highway was in the north of the country when the A1 opened with 2×2 lanes between Polykastro and Evzoni in 1973. It stayed that way for 15 years. The second stretch of highway only opened in 1988. In 1990 a long stretch of the A7 from Korinthos to Tripoli opened. In the 1990s large parts of the EO1 were converted to A1 as a toll road.
The Athens region had an underdeveloped road network. Until the late 1990s, there were actually no real highways in the urban area. In the early 2000s, the EO1 in the city was transformed into the A1, and in 2003 the A6 was completed as a bypass of Athens. A major project in the north of Greece was the construction of the A2 as an east-west highway from Igoumenitsa to the Turkish border over 670 kilometers. This highway was completed in 2009 and is often seen as a pinnacle of European road construction. The development of new highways almost came to a standstill from 2010 onwards due to the financial crisis. In 2014, the construction of motorways slowly started again. In 2016, the 46-kilometer-long A71. openedto Sparta, the first major road opening in 8 years. After that, the number of new highways accelerated significantly, in 2017 330 kilometers of new highway opened, more than the 10 years before combined.
Greece still has a relatively underdeveloped road network. Large parts of the country are not served by motorways and travel times are long. Due to the lack of motorways, Greece has a much higher number of road deaths than in other EU countries. Until about 2010, Greece even had the highest number of road deaths per 1 million inhabitants of the European Union. Compared to other southern European countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal, Greece has a significantly less developed road network.
- According to Abbreviationfinder, Athens is the capital of Greece.
The road network can be divided into various classifications. The highways are the highest category and are the main thoroughfares. The Greek highway is called an “Aυτοκινητόδρομοí”, transliterated an “Autokinitodromi”. There are also motorways, which can vary in appearance from semi-motorways without an emergency lane to wide single carriageways with possible overtaking lanes and narrow emergency lanes. In addition, there are national roads.
|Ethniki Odos in Greece|
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|European roads in Greece|
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The Greek road network is under the responsibility of the ‘Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks’ (Greek: Υπουργείο Υποδομών, Μεταφορών και Δικτύων), also known as YME. Most highways are managed by concessionaires.
Tolls are charged on most motorways in Greece. These are in the management of concessionaires. The most important are Aegean Motorway (A1), Attiki Odos (A6), and Egnatia (A2). Smaller concessionaires are Moreas (A7), Nea Odos (A1), and Olympia Odos (A8).
The toll roads are often with an open toll system with a toll station at strategic points. In addition, there are the toll roads Aktio-Preveza Tunnel and Rio-Antirrio Bridge.
There has been a lot of uncertainty about the road numbering in Greece, especially about the numbering of the highways. We often don’t talk about road numbering, but about road names. Sometimes only E numbers are mentioned, but not all highways have an E number. The road numbers are in most cases indicated, with the prefix “A”. National trunk roads (ethnikés odoí, singular: ethniki odos) have the prefix ‘EO’. In written language they are sometimes also given the prefix ‘GR’. Exits are numbered sequentially.
As more highways were built in Greece, the numbering system became clearer. The numbers A1 to A9 are the main axes of the motorway network, the numbers A11 to A99 are branches or tangential connections from the main number. Three-digit numbers are rare, but are branches of the two-digit number.
The signage is bilingual on the main roads. On the highways there are green signs with the destinations in the Latin script with white letters, and dark yellow letters for the Greek script. In terms of design, the signs have a very German appearance and the same font as in Germany is also used (DIN 1451). Compared to, for example, Italythe signage is much more readable. A guideline in Greece is to put “only the absolutely necessary” on the signposts. As a result, the signage on the highways is usually clear, and unlike other countries, does not get caught up in numerous local destinations. The layout is similar to German signage, with fork signs and announcement boards for exits and junctions. Turns are indicated 2000 meters in advance, junctions sometimes already 3000 meters. The road number plate is also similar to the German one. E-numbers are usually indicated.
On other roads, blue signs are used with white letters for the Latin script and dark yellow ones for the Greek script. These signs can sometimes be more unclear than on the highways due to the addition of a deluge of destinations.
In 2010, there were 111 deaths per 1 million inhabitants in Greece, a decrease of 30 percent compared to 2001. Despite this, Greece was the most unsafe country in the European Union at the time. The high number of road deaths in Greece is remarkable considering that it is one of the older EU countries. The number of road deaths is significantly higher than other EU countries around the Mediterranean. In 2015, there were 74 road deaths per 1 million inhabitants, significantly above the EU average, and the highest among the older EU countries. Despite this, there was a significant decrease in the number of road deaths between 2010 and 2013.
The registration rate of the number of road injuries in Greece is considered to be one of the worst in the European Union. No distinction is made between seriously and slightly injured. The figures of the number of injuries are only an estimate based on police reports, with the police officers making an estimate of the extent of injuries. In 2016, it was determined by the ETSC that Greece does not intend to improve registration either.