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Bad experience with ATV in Santorini

Northern Virginia
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Bad experience with ATV in Santorini

I am writing to share my recent experiences with an ATV rental that resulted in injuries to its rider that required medical treatment, so others can benefit from our experience while in the Aegean Islands.

While riding an ATV on Santorini my son’s ATV pulled him off the road when he got too close to the shoulder. He was unable to pull it back onto the road surface, and it went down an embankment and rolled over. He was able to jump off the ATV before it rolled, landing on his head and shoulder, sustaining injuries that required an ambulance to taking to an emergency clinic. My other son was with him and brought him back to a pharmacy after his examination to fill a prescription that turned out to be eye drops. He was in pain, but had been given no prescription for painkillers or an anti-inflammatory, which in my experience is pretty standard in any American emergency room where someone suffers an injury after an accident. My wife is a nurse and she contacted the doctor who was very uncooperative initially telling to come back two days later for a prescription. She finally prevailed on the doctor to provide a prescription for an NSAID. He also told her that he had prescribed a neck brace, not eye drops. After going back to the pharmacy, the pharmacist looked again at the prescription and said, “Now I see what he meant.”

In the meantime I went back to the ATV rental office of Moto Kostas, where the owner told me that the damages to the ATV were 1100 euros, claiming that the frame was bent. If have worked on motorcycles and cars for years, and there is no possibility that the frame was bent. It looked like the ATV may have had a bent axle or strut. It had a cracked fender and luggage compartment, but that was it. I began to argue with him about the charges and he quickly reduced his demand to 800 euros and then 700 cash. He finally agreed to accept 700 on a credit card.

My son who was injured claimed he had been told when he rented the ATV that it came with insurance. But the contract stated that it only had third party insurance, not collision insurance. No collision damage waiver was offered by Moto Kostas and they insisted in cash payments for the rental fee, thus preventing my son from claiming the credit card benefit for the deductible part of his auto insurance in the US.

In speaking with the pharmacy and the hotel staff, we were told that accidents like this are frequent in Santorini. The pharmacist claimed that on a busy weekend day, he typically saw 15 to 20 accident cases in the pharmacy.

Here are a few suggestions that will help you if your are thinking about renting an ATV to tour Santorini or any of the Aegean Islands.

1. First, don’t rent one. They are very dangerous and highly susceptible to roll overs. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission says that death rates on ATV’s in the US are 1% and injuries much higher. As with a motorcycle or scooter, you have nothing between you and another vehicle or the ground.

2. Second, don’t even think about renting an ATV if you have never driven one. They may look cute and fun to drive, but they don’t handle like a car. With the large soft tires that have large open block treads, they will grab a soft surface like a shoulder and pull you off the road, as it did with my son. You can try to jerk the handlebar back to the road side, but you are risking a rollover due to its high center of gravity and short axle track and wheelbase.

3. Use your helmet. We saw a number of people zipping around Santorini on ATV’s and scooters without a helmet. At even a slow speed, say 25 mph, if your head hits the pavement, you may not survive the experience. Even with a rental helmet, you will find that you are given a very cheap helmet with inadequate protection. You should be wearing a full face, Styrofoam padded helmet. You will get a sponge foam helmet with an unprotected face. That means that if you hit your face on the payment, not only do you not have anything to protect your skull, but you are risking disfigurement as well as broken bones.

4. I have ridden motorcycles and my brother, at age 61 is still racing high performance motorcycles at road courses in the US. Neither of us would ride without boots, jacket and jeans, if not leathers. While you won’t bring your leathers to the Aegean, riding in flips, shorts and Tshirts is an invitation to disaster, if you fall. Every cycle rider falls eventually—everyone.

5. Be prepared for local cars to tailgate you and pass you very close to your ATV. If you must ride, stay well off the shoulder, even if the passing cars make you nervous. Many of the roads in Santorini are hilly. They do have guard rails in some places, but not everywhere. There are no shoulders on hilly roads that do not have a guard rail. In my son’s accident the hill had a sheer drop to about 5 feet below the road surface.

6. Understand that you get what you pay for. Make sure you rent from a company that accepts credit cards and offers collision damage waivers. In our case, there is no question in my mind that we were ripped off by the renter. But being in a foreign country, unfamiliar with the laws and needing to leave in a day, we had no leverage with the rental company. We could have not paid them anything, but we were risking a run-in with the cops or being prevented from leaving the country by the immigration police. It wasn’t worth finding out what would have happened, if had just skipped out on the bill.

7. Get a recommendation from your hotel for a rental company. At least you then have some possibility they might intervene with the rental company and get better treatment than some outfit down an alley using a hawker to drum up business.

8. Emergency medicine in the Aegean Islands isn’t up to the standards of any big city US hospital. As Frommer’s says, emergency treatment there will be “basic”, but free. The comedy of errors for getting the right treatment for my son could probably happen anywhere, but no one I spoke to in Santorini was surprised at our experience. If there are a lot of these kinds of accidents, I am sure there is a certain amount of resentment by the locals, including the clinic docs, that they a providing free care to tourists who don’t have the good sense to rent a car. You aren’t likely to get the kind of care you would get in American ER, if you do have an accident.

Bottom line--rent a car from a reputable rental outfit, and have fun.

London, United...
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1. Re: Bad experience with ATV in Santorini

Sorry to hear about your son's experience, I hope he's OK now. We have on several occasions warned people not to rent ATVs or any other vehicle they're not experienced in driving at home. This is just one example of such a thread: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g189433-i245-k3814…

I suspect you're right about the medical staff being fed up of treating tourists who've had ATV/scooter accidents, although it sounds as if your son was unfortunate enough to deal with a bored or incompetent pharmacist, which can't have helped.

As far as I know painkillers aren't prescribed in Greece, if you are in pain you buy them yourself over the counter. Even if your son had been given a prescription for aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen or even something stronger like mefenamic acid, he would have had to pay for them - a prescription isn't needed to obtain them anyway. A pharmacist would have been able to advise re: suitable painkiller medication.

Sandbach, United...
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2. Re: Bad experience with ATV in Santorini

A cautionary tale if ever I heard one!

In the years I've been visiting Santorini, I've seen so many accidents of this type, many many of them ATV related. Yes, they look cute and fun but they can be notoriously difficult to drive for the uninitiaited, and tuition from the rental people is risibly non existent.

The roads on Santorini are narrow and bendy at the best of times and the relative slowness of these vehicles means that long tailbacks can occur, leading to frustration on the part of the people stuck behind them, often leading to them taking risks in trying to get past them, increasing the possibility of an accident.

Also, bear in mind that Santorini is a small island, and medical attention can be basic, to say the least. Any serious injuries have to be dealt with off-island, often Crete, sometimes As far away as Athens.

Please take care if you feel that you have to rent one of these vehicles, the advice above is excellent and should be heeded by everyone.

Martin

Santorini
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3. Re: Bad experience with ATV in Santorini

I am very sorry to hear about your sons accident and glad it was not very serious.

I agree that ATVs are dangerous, in fact, any thing less than a car is. This is from experience, I was involved in a crash 4 years ago on Santorini and although I was wearing a helmet, my face was pretty badly scarred, so much so, i had plastic surgery to hide the scar.........

Anyway, yes, the medical treatment here on Santorini is very basic ( I was flown to Athens for a specialist to examine me and make sure I had no underlying injuries). But I would like to add its not only tourists who are involved in accidents here, locals are too, I have known many who have had at least one incident with a bike.

So I agree with all you said in your post and hope that this unfortunate accident didn't destroy your vacation..

London, United...
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4. Re: Bad experience with ATV in Santorini

>>Emergency medicine in the Aegean Islands isn’t up to the standards of any big city US hospital. <<

A point to keep in mind is that Santorini isn't a big city. The population on the island is 12,000 people, much smaller than any big city, in the US or otherwise. Larger Aegean islands have excellent medical facilities, but they cater for larger populations and therefore have larger, better equipped hospitals.

Northern Virginia
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5. Re: Bad experience with ATV in Santorini

Thanks for the thoughtful and kind comments about my son. He's recovering well now. He had to stay off his feet for a few days and wasn't able to go clubbing Mykonos (both of my sons are adults). He had to lay around the beach, which wasn't a bad way to recover. By the time he reached Ibiza, he was well enough to go out at night.

The comments about Santinini being small are good ones. I guess my real point is that if you do get hurt badly on a scooter or ATV, don't expect state of the art treatment.

As for the meds, he was given a prescription for Voltaren after my wife badgered the doctor. I used to take the generic form of Voltraren for many years and it's always worked well for me--much better than the OTC NSAIDS. But even here in the US, with a similar kind of injury, in the ER, you are likely to get a prescription for a clinical dose of Ibuprofen, which would be 800 mg 3x day, vs, the OTC dose which is 200 mg, 4x day. The OTC dose will limit pain, but it's not enough to reduce inflammation. Personally, I could never tolerate 2400 mg of ibuprofen per day.

Liverpool, United...
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6. Re: Bad experience with ATV in Santorini

Thank God your son lived to tell the tale, maybe the thought of the nightlife, on Ibiza, helped him to recover, although I bet the same thoughts caused you palpitations !!

Northern Virginia
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7. Re: Bad experience with ATV in Santorini

lol

Delphi,Greece
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8. Re: Bad experience with ATV in Santorini

I am glad your son is OK now.

In general I agree with you.

Just a couple of comments though:

It's up to every individual to have some common sense while abroad. Because you are on holidays, that doesn't mean you leave your brain back home.

Most accidents occure because people don't pay attention. They decide to hire a vehicle they have never ride before on unfamiliar roads, which it's OK up to a point, but they often drive without paying attention on the road, or driving fast trying to behave like a local and not left behind and so on. This is what usually happens.

ATVs I agree are not very safe, but as far as you know how to handle them, they are not more dangerous than a motorbike. Personaly I always drive an ATV when on the islands and I first ride one on Naxos. But I was extra causious and driving very slow till I get the handle of it. I never had an accident. On the other hand, one friend of mind went out of the road some days ago, because he was driving and ATV for first time and I warn him to drive very slowly, but he wouldn't listen to me. So he falled of the road on a blind curve, driving on 60 klm/hour. Luckily he didn't get any bad injuries!

Rental companies... Now you'll get me started! So many people go around looking for a bargain, without taking note of the specifics. When someone provides much cheaper vehicles than the other people around, obviously lacks somewhere on service or equipment or both. In the hotel I currently work on Paros, we co-ordinate with two very reliable car hire companies and one ATV /motorbike company. It's not of benefit to the hotels to provide bad service to their guests, so they peak up their collaborators very carefully. Well, there is a place that rent both cars and ATVs and motorbikes up the road, they offer hires in half the rate we do. Someone would think that that's because there is the hotel's commision involved, but that's not the case. The case is that their fleet there is very old and warn out, and I quite doupt they do all contracts and insurance matters properly. Whenever a Greek person goes to rent, they try to make him go away, so I think there is something tricky on the contracts. One friend who is foreign went on August to rent an ATV because we couldn't find anywhere else, the guy there said ok, and when I show up for the contracts the guy starting saying b*llshit to me so I'll not rent it! That I am too young and unexperienced to drive (I am nearly 29 and I have my license since 2002!), that if an accident occures then I may be bad injured and have to pay lots of money, and some such cr*p. Furthermore I've seen the helmets provided and they are a joke. Sometimes guests staying with us went there theirselves because they thought they get a better deal and I've then seem them pushing their motos up there as they wouldn't start them off ! Well, at least they learn their lesson!

The car companies we co-operate with, they come in hotel's reception, expain everything on the insurance, make contract with guest, of course they accept credit cards for payment, and then they go and show to guests how everything work in the car.They also check carefully with the guest car's condition. The same applies with the ATV/moto company which provides very new vehicles in a good condition, and very good helmets. An emergency phone is always available, and of course if something goes wrong hotel will chip in and help.

Last but not least, guests are always given a map, itinerary ideas and very detailed information on road conditions and what to excpect.

So, think before you hire, be causious, and you will be fine!

9. Re: Bad experience with ATV in Santorini

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