You may have heard that Greeks drive down the middle of the road. You may have heard that they always overtake on blind bends. You may have heard that Crete has an unnaturally high death rate for road accidents.
It's all true !
Accidents do happen but I have found that if you drive with care and very important, drive at the correct speed for the conditions, you will avoid unnecessary accidents. Yes, you will get honked at traffic lights, you will get overtaken and undertaken, you will see most Greek drivers on the mobile and drinking coffee but don't lose your cool. There are a lot of good things about driving on Crete, not least the ability to park easily and very few traffic jams even in high season.
Some Statistics and Guidance
Crete has over 60 deaths every year from road accidents. Now in a population of just over 600,000 and with only one motorway, that is a dreadful figure.
Eastern Europe has a higher death toll than Western Europe. This statistic is accredited to better roads, better public transport and cities in Western Europe being more congested which slows the traffic down.
From my own experience I note that roads on Crete have many blind bends and when some motorists slow down to negotiate the bend, other idiotic motorists speed up to overtake. This is not only Greeks as I have witnessed many tourists doing the same thing. Do not overtake on a bend, blind or otherwise.
Many accidents are caused on roundabouts which many people find confusing. You must, except when signed otherwise, give way to cars coming from your right. This is especially true on roundabouts where you must give way to cars entering the roundabout and slipways where cars are coming from the Highway. Where you have right of way the road joining from the right will have a give way sign.
Once again, from my own experience speed limits are usually well signposted but rule of thumb is 50 kph in built up areas and 90 kph on the highway. Look out for the signage but most importantly drive to suit the conditions.
The police regularly set up roadside speed traps and alcohol tests, so be aware. The alcohol limit is 0.5 mg. They are mostly on the Highway but not always. They sometimes set up outside a popular village or town.
Like most other European countries you have to be 21 to hire a car in Greece. If you hold a foreign driving licence you need to be 18 before you can drive a private car in Greece.
Some Useful Phone Numbers
112 Is the emergency number for Fire, Police, Ambulance and Coast Guard.
104 Is for roadside help and towing services.
174 Is for information from the Greek Automobile Club.
100 Is for Police.
166 Is for Ambulance.
199 Is for the Fire Brigade.
Luxury vehicles which Greece say is anything over 1900 cc are taxed very high ie €690 per year. Most other vehicles are taxed at €120 per year average. If you have an agricultural occupation then this tax is reduced. The tax MUST be paid by the end of the year or you will be penalised.
If you decide to import your own vehicle, then beware the Customs red tape ( especially if a luxury vehicle ).
I gathered all the necessary paperwork from the Greek embassy in London and the customs in Souda wouldn't even look at it.
You will pay a fee which is at the discretion of the Customs Officer you are dealing with. This fee will depend entirely on the vehicle you are driving and its age.
You will need to tax the vehicle which involves a couple of visits to the registration department in Chania, a visit to their bank and a couple of visits to the Tax Office in Tsanakaki Street in Chania.
You get a red number plate which is only valid for 5 years, although they don't tell you that. It is an offence to have a red number plate for longer than 5 years. You have to go back to the Registration Office and do the process over again.
Of course you then need to insure the vehicle which is very similar to elsewhere but no " no claims " bonus. A bit like their house insurance which NEVER includes accidental damage.
If you think you can stay in Greece with renewing a 6 months car insurance, think again, this is illegal and will incur a very heavy fine. If the police stop you with a UK number plate they will ask to see your point of entry certificate which of course you will not have. Yes, I know the police do not very often stop UK registration vehicles. But they may, they stopped me !
Whatever you decide, please stay safe.