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Driving around Zakynthos

When thinking about driving around Zakynthos, the first thing that comes to mind is whether one should hire a car, motorbike or a quad. So, here are a few pointers that might help you decide.

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Overlooking Zakynthos town from Bochali.

There are many rental companies offering the best for any type of vehicle you are looking for, from a small run around to four wheel drives, mini buses, motorbikes and quads. Some may like to pre pay for their rental, especially during peak season but often the best deals are made face to face, direct with the rental places themselves. It is advisable to search for the best price and there are certainly a lot of offers available.

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REGULATIONS:-

Driving licence

National driving licences conforming with the model in Annex 9 of the 1949 Convention or in Annex 6 of the 1968 Convention or with the European Communities’ model are accepted.

Visitors may ride mopeds or motorcycles of any cylinder capacity or drive private cars in Greece if they have reached the minimum age required in their country of residence. A foreign driving licence does not entitle the holder to drive in Greece until the age of 18years old. Rental companies request that the driver be over the age of  21 years old.

International Driving Permits (1949 or 1968) are recognised.

To answer some of those questions…. Do I need an international Driver’s licence?

NO… if you belong to the EU. As you have been issued a Eurpoean Licence then you are able to drive anyway in Europe, yes including GREECE.

Some will accept the licence of the country that does not belong to the EU without any problems, eg:- Australian, New Zealand,  HOWEVER…..If you get in an accident and don’t have the International Driving Permit you’ll be in serious trouble with the Greek Police. Greek Law requires it and if you can’t produce it you could possibly be detained until you come up with the cash to pay for any -and all- damages to the vehicles involved regardless of whose fault it is and whether or not the damages were pre-existing.
AND……………….
Your insurance, including what your credit card supposedly provides, will be invalidated because technically you would have been driving illegally.

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Driving  scooters, motorbikes and quads 

Driving license requirements: For scooters 50cc (Piaggio Typhoon and Kymco People) EU license class AM or B, for motorbikes up to 125cc EU class A1, for larger displacement motorcycles class A is required by law and insurance . For those from outside the EU, a driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement is required for all motorbikes. Driving a scooter even less than 50cc with a car only driver’s license is not allowed in Greece.

ATV’s can be driven with a car driver’s license.

Drink/drug driving

Legal limit

Legal limit: 0.05% (equivalent to 0.25 mg per litre of breath)

A lower limit of 0.02% (0.10 mg per litre of breath) applies to novice drivers who have held a driving licence for less than two years, to motorcyclists and to drivers of commercial or business vehicles.

If the amount of alcohol in the blood is 0.05% or over, this constitutes a criminal offence and penalties are imposed

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Alcohol

The police may impose a test on any suspected person in order to establish if one is under the influence of alcohol. Drivers suspected of being under the influence of alcohol are compelled to accept this test and their refusal may lead to penalties including imprisonment, a fine and the withdrawal of their driving licence

Minimum Age

Drivers must be 18.

Seat Belts: Must be used by front-seat passengers. With Greece’s high accident rate, please, everybody, strap yourself in.

Children: Children under the age of 10 are forbidden to sit in the front seat.

Speed Limits

Use these as a guide, but always obey the posted limits, which may vary.

Urban areas: 30 mph/50 kph

Outside cities: 68 mph/110 kph

In Zakynthos, there are NO roads that are built for speed (freeways) and quite often you will find yourself on roads that seem to be only one way, however are not. Driving, safely at ALL times is highly recommended.

Safe-Drive

Using the Horn:

Technically, it’s illegal in towns and urban areas except in case of emergencies. Use it freely if needed; it could save your life. On mountain roads, and around twists and turns through olive groves,  always use your horn. In such circumstances always make a short beep shortly before going around a blind curve, you never know what is coming around the bend.

Flashing your lights.

This is usually down as a courtesy for you to progress first, the other person will flash his lights to allow you to pass a difficult road or allow you to exit/enter a narrow road.

Driving in the Middle of the Road

This is very common in the villages, especially on narrow roads, and is not necessarily a bad idea if you are expecting to have to avoid a sudden obstruction such as rock falls, grazing goats, or an unexpected parked car. However, at slow speed as usually it is these narrow roads that you may come head on with a truck, bus or even a tractor. Never take it for granted that you have the road all to yourself.

Roadside Assistance:

ELPA offers coverage to members of AAA (Triple-A), CAA and other similar assistance services but any driver can contact them. Check with your membership department for information on using the ELPA shared services in Greece.

ELPA has a quick-access numbers anywhere in Greece: 10400

If renting you will be advised of emergency numbers.

Parking:

Forbidden (though it may not be marked) within 9 feet of a fire hydrant, 15 feet of an intersection, or 45 feet from a bus stop.

FINDING THE RIGHT VEHICLE

CARS

The most popular car companies which are found worldwide are on the island along with family owned rental places. Prices vary obviously depending on the car you choose. However, as mentioned above you may want to wait till you get to the island and check out the availability and prices that are offered, especially in the off seasons. There are rental places in Zakynthos town, every major resort and also near the airport. The legal driver age to rent a car in Greece is 23-70 years old, depending on the category or the car. The driver must hold an international driving license and have at least 2 years of driving experience. The driver is the only person licensed to drive the rental vehicle, unless a second driver is stated in the contract with the rental company.

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Insurance coverage

Most car rentals offer unlimited miles and LDW (loss damage waiver, also called collision damage waiver) coverage in case of an accident. This means that if an accident happens and it is the fault of the rental’s driver, then this driver is only responsible for the small amount of money that has already been prearranged with the rental company. Upon car delivery, drivers can ask for an extra coverage or full damage waiver, if they wish.

We would recommend take some photos of the rental car upon pick up and note together with the rental representative all possible scratches or damages on the vehicle. This way, you can prove that none of these damages were caused by you when the rental period is finished.

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SCOOTERS/MOTORBIKES

Hiring a two wheeled vehicle would be one of the cheapest ways to get around in Zakynthos. There are many types to choose from and rental companies are easy to find.

Standard European Union licence categories for motorcycles and light vehicles (AM, A1, A2 and A) apply in Greece. There are separate regulations that apply when driving scooters and motorbikes.

Scooters

Scooters can be driven with an EU category AM licence, which is valid for two- or three-wheeled vehicles that have a driving speed of no more than 45 Km/h and an engine capacity of no more than 50cc.  Drivers must be at least 18 years old, due to international driving licence laws.

AM-class vehicles may also be driven by holders of an A-class licence, which allows access to all vehicles in the A class. An A-class licence can be obtained at the age of 24, or at the age of 22 if the licence holder has used A2-class vehicles for two years. In some countries, a B-class licence allows access to all vehicles in the A class.

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Motorbikes

From age 18, drivers may apply for an A1 licence. This covers motorbikes with a maximum engine capacity of 125cc.

INSURANCE.

Insurance is available from your rental company, however it is important to note that any incidents whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs you may not be covered.

Therefore, we would suggest before leaving with your vehicle you have been told and understand the conditions of your contract.

Don’t forget your HELMET!!!!

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QUADS

When thinking about hiring a quad, one should be aware of the following things.

Quad bikes are deceptive beasts, besides that they are one of the most popular forms of vehicles among tourists. They are an excellent way of getting around, and for this reason I am going to take a little more time on advising you on your choice.

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They look solid, reliable and stable. They look like the sort of machine that pretty much anyone can get on without too much trouble and start riding.
Which is how a lot of people treat them, unfortunately.

Right, here’s the news. Quad bikes are inherently unstable. They have a narrow wheel-base and a high centre of gravity. They have a type of tyre designed to grip on soft ground but on the road they can grip suddenly and tip over before you have time to react. And remember…….
they need quite a bit of skill to ride them properly and safely. Many people are injured the very first time they ride a quad bike, and it is a sad fact that in Zakynthos many accidents have happened mainly involving quads. Speed and uncontrollable quads being the main cause. Of course it is not the quad’s fault but the driver who is handling it.
Learn how to handle your quad safely.
The thing with quads is that they look so simple to use. It’s not as though you can fall off it and get up again the way you could with a motorbike. If it tips over and lands straight on top of you, the chances of lifting it off on your own are very slim, no matter how strong you think you are – and assuming you’re not injured.

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Riding a quad is a particular skill. In many instances you have to do quite the opposite to what you would do on a two-wheel bike. It’s counter-intuitive and it takes learning.
• If you do nothing else, take a quad bike riding course. There have been people who have been riding quads for years, they’ve done a course and they’ve realised how much they didn’t know. Do a course before you come over on holiday, if this is the form of transport you would like to use.
• Know your capabilities. Learn how to judge when the slope or terrain is not suitable for the quad. Don’t push it. It’s better to walk away than risk not walking again.
• Going round corners. Now this one I cannot stress enough!!! The rule of thumb is that when you’re cornering at slower speeds, you have to move your weight to the outside of the turn. At higher speeds, you move your weight to the inside of the turn. (I’ve literally seen people come off their quads when they come round corners, either that or they are almost toppled)

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• Riding across slopes, keep your weight on the uphill side. Avoid bumps and hollows as these can cause your weight to shift downhill. Unfortunately some of our roads are full of pot holes which causes more of a problem when riding quads.
• Going straight up slopes, move your body weight forward. Select a low gear and use a steady throttle. If you change gear, you instinctively blip the throttle as you resume acceleration, this takes weight off the front wheel and can cause you to flip. Not good.
• Going downhill, shift your weight to the back. Use a low gear and travel steadily.
Don’t use the front brake suddenly as this can cause the bike to flip over forwards.
!!!!!! EXTRA INSURANCE HERE FOLKS…. it would be thoroughly recommended to take out extra insurance if you choose this type of transport, unfortunately the odds of having an accident are high. It’s fact not fiction.
• Did I mention doing a course? Oh yes… I did!!!!. Our hospital is inundated with minor injuries on a daily basis, something of which could be avoided if those who ride them took a little extra care.
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There has been talk of a new law banning quads in 2018, at the moment the law HAS NOT been passed so, quads will freely roam our roads once again. As for insurance, apparently that has changed in favour of the rider. However, we must point out that you are only covered if you are the driver that is registered as the renter, passengers will also have to be covered as well.

As for the laws and saftey messures of driving or riding a motorcycle, you have a licence to drive you should know the rules…… SEAT BELT for your car……. HELMET for all who are on a motorbike or Quad!!!!! You should not have to be warned.

for British nationals more information can be found on their website.https://www.gov.uk 

Zakynthos Informer warns that any information in regards to the above is liable to change without notice.

About Louise Inzk

Louise is Australian born and has been a Greek citizen since 1991. She has deep cultural ties with the island, often writing about Zakynthian Traditions and Culture. She is also an active member of the Volunteer Group of Zakynthos, Giostra Di Zante and is a member of the women's choir "Rodambelos". Her love of the island and all it offers saw her joining the Zakynthos (Zante) Informer admin team in 2014.

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