Portuguese roads are Europe's most dangerous

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The Independent Online

Holidaymakers who hire cars in Portugal and Greece are driving on Europe's most dangerous roads, research published yesterday shows.

Holidaymakers who hire cars in Portugal and Greece are driving on Europe's most dangerous roads, research published yesterday shows.

While six people were killed in road accidents in Britain per 100,000 of the population during 2000-01, the fatality rate in Portugal was 21.9 and in Greece 21.1, the International Road Traffic and Accident Database reveals.

The 6.0 deaths rate in the UK was the lowest after Sweden, which registered 5.8 fatalities. Spain, one of the most popular holiday destinations, was the fifth most dangerous country in Europe for motorists, with a fatality rate of 15 per 100,000. France came eighth with 13.6 per 100,000.

Holidaymakers destined for more distant countries should be even more cautious. The death rate in India, for instance, is 35 per 100,000, nearly six times worse than in Britain. Travellers preparing to go to continental Europe this month should be aware that if they drive, they will be taking to the roads at by far the most dangerous time of the year.

An AA spokeswoman said Britain was one of the safest countries partly because of legislation that required motorists to wear seatbelts. There is also a relatively low level of drink-driving, partly because of tougher laws. "Also, in Europe drivers' behaviour is different to ours and we have better road conditions here," she said.

The spokeswoman added that people should constantly be reminded when driving abroad that they should stay on the right side of the road.

"It's easy on motorways, but the confusion often comes when motorists venture into side roads," she said. Drivers also needed to take note of the condition of their hired car and maintain constant awareness of drivers around them, the spokeswoman said.

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